Dolfinz; and Furious Machiavellian Machinations

So jaded am I with the furious machinations of the entertainment industry’s PR machine, I actually entertained the thought “I wonder whether the new band Dolfinz are actually surreptitious blog PR for the kids’ movie Dolphin Tale?” for a moment longer than is really feasible.

In reality, the Venn Diagram displaying a correlation between Dolfinz and Dolphin Tale wouldn’t have a huge overlap, but hey: if the conniving team behind Lana del Rey‘s perpendicular shot at startdom can dupe a whole world of bloggers, anyone can.

Still, if songs like Hot Pants are the result of such Machiavellian manipulation, then I’ll happily buy the spin; for now at least.


Hot Pants is a bubble-gum pop song played on a rickety Telecaster using a traffic cone filled with fish-and-chip-papers as amplification. It sounds broken, albeit the kind of endearingly lazy, drowsy broken that is found within lovesick stupor.

My two mental tests when picking a band to put on ANBAD are as follows: Would John Peel play this?, and Would this sound good on a crappy AM radio?

Hot Pants sounds good played through Dolfinz‘ own lo-fi filter, and so the answer to both is a resounding yes. High praise, I suppose.


Tropical Popsicle, Pigeon-Holes and Preachers

I’ve been doing this for too long.

It was confirmed the moment when I posed myself the question “hey – are Tropical Popsicle Trop Pop?”, as if tenuously connecting a band’s name with a micro-niche music genre I’d only really encountered once before is enough to make a question valid.

They’re not Trop Pop, by the way – this sub-sub-meta-genre is Cold Wave, of course – but let’s not get bogged down in the ludicrous world of pigeon-holing, and prise open a song like The  Beach With No Footprints, where tinny zing!s of noise punctuate the thoughts of a lunatic preacher.

Sounding like a lost 80’s synth power-pop hit slowed to 70% of its original speed, The  Beach With No Footprints has the important knack of supplying just enough sound to keep the listener interested and from flipping onwards to another song.

We’re rewarded with a song that is almost motorik in its relentlessness and insidiously burrows into your mind – and then leaves you with nothing at all. A magic trick to enjoy.


Yoofs: Slated

Ah, the hilarity to be found buried deep within the minutiae of legal disputes.

Yoofs should have been on ANBAD a week ago, but they promptly vanished from the internet on the day I was to write about them, and I was left hanging like a damp dishcloth over the cold tap of pop.

The reason behind their sudden departure from the internet? They had to change their name because someone else was already using it.

And what was that band-name causing such all-round grumpiness? AC Slater.

Yes, AC Slater, the character from heinous, preachy 90’s kids’ TV show Saved By The Bell. If I was the DJ causing this dispute, I might begin wondering when NBC’s lawyers come a-knocking.

Thus: Yoofs it is. It’s a better name, to be honest, so all’s well that ends well, right?

Oh, the music? It’s just what you’d expect from a band originally named after a generic ‘jock’ TV character: lo-fi, jangly, grunt-pop.


Drenched in splashy treble, pinging around in its own echodrome, Sidewalk is as bright-n-breezy a pop song as you’ll hear (this week, at least).

Shooting for the stars is hard when you’re trying to make it seem like you’re scratching around in the dust – but this is what Yoofs are doing, and it’s working well so far.


Daily Life: Dizzy, Blurry and Warm

The way that the slacker pop of Dinosaur Jr. et al has crept back into pop has been heart-warming, to say the least.

It shouldn’t, however, be too surprising, as the reappearance of the inaccurate but somehow more satisfying sounds of these bands is just part of a logical progression.

Really, it’s just the next step from the uptight, mono-rhythmicality of the bands that followed in the Strokes’ wake: bands that were all style and little function, where super-precise drum beats and accurate guitar playing were  desired ahead of song quality.

So bands like Daily Life, where a warm fuzz not only swaddles each song – but necessarily smooths over some of the equally necessary rough edges – can be viewed as the woozy comedown from those dubiously cool times.

Reunion, along with the band’s other songs, confirm their dedication to their non-posturing, not-too-cool-for-school remit. Their songs are dizzy and blurry and warm.

Daily Life spawned from another ANBAD-featured band, Hyacinth Girl. I noted in their review that they sounded a bit like Dinosaur Jr., too. Funny that.

Here, in Daily Life, that trait continues, and yet this band have refined that sound, which now simmers between lackadaisical pop and crunchy de-tuned rock. They’re a low-key, end-of-the-party, sunsets-and-cold-beer kind of band. This is a very good thing.


Times New Viking: Blank Euphoria and Wingdings

Funny how people will obsess over the minutiae in life.

Just look at typographic obsessives, for whom the world of typefaces is much more exciting than you might think.

Stop yawning at the back. Where you and I regard scrolling through the drop down menu of fonts in Microsoft Word as a minor distraction on our route to selecting Arial, they see it as a delicious opportunity to revisit some dear old friends.

The fact that there is a movie entirely dedicated to the Helvetica font tells you as much about our confused times as it does the people it is made for.

Despite their amalgamative name, Times New Viking are not font obsessives pushing their revolutionary typeface agenda on an unsuspecting public via the medium of lo-fi indie. Instead, their personal compulsion is the manufacture of butterfly-wing fragile, reedy guitar lullabies.

No Room To Live begins with what sounds like a collective sigh of noise from their instruments, like that of a lover dragging themselves up to give it one last go with a complicated partner.

The song isn’t melancholy though – instead the feeling of blank euphoria reverbs throughout, and we feel their mixture of love, loss and dusty happiness.

Besides, if Times New Viking really wanted to annoy people, they’d make sure that there was a contractual obligation in place to ensure that their name was always spelt in Comic Sans or Wingdings. Now that’s revolutionary.

Until then, their beautiful music will have to do. Excellent. //

TODAY’S BONUS BAND: Woobbes // FIVE WORD REVIEW: Euphoric, fidgity house bezerker alert!

All Cannibals, Musical Flatulence and Fighting For Windmills

There’s a certain boldness – bravery, even – in releasing a single that has not a single lyric for the first two minutes or so. Well, boldness or insanity.

Hey – it worked on Blue Monday, although that song was such a nailed-on classic from the moment it was born that Bernard Sumner could have farted semi-rhythmically throughout and it would still have sold enough copies to bankrupt Factory Records forever.

Musical flatulence is not the shared link to All Cannibals, though the predilection for long intros and outros is what they and New Order have in common.

The danger with long introductions is that you may lose interest, waiting for the lyrics to start, and then over-scrutinise them when they eventually appear.

Fortunately, All Cannibals are a fiendish lot, allowing gentle, wistful words to slip out just at the precise moment your mind threatens to wander and then all, suddenly, is well again.

“Give me a windmill to fight for,” is a plaintive cry of sorts, albeit one from the 17th century. Polar Mist is an atypically French song that will resonate with those who like their pop music curious, coiling and cracked.

All Cannibals have managed to create songs that seem almost too lightweight and raw, and then embellish them with the density of pop hooks and rock curios that will banish any negative thoughts. Yum.


TODAY’S BONUS BAND The Babies // FIVE WORD SUMMARY: Lo-fi, High-Concept, happy jangle pop.

Piran; An Exercise In The Theoretical Stalking Thereof

You know when you think you know someone, but you can’t swear to it? It’s a bit like when you accidentally catch a glimpse of your own reflection and momentarily think you’re looking someone completely different, but with all the social agonies of not knowing whether to head on over and say ‘hi’.

So, I’m sure I’ve seen Piran around and about in Manchester – I know his face. But I’m equally sure that this is nonsense. There are millions of people in Manchester. Stupid brain. This has become a weird exercise in non-existent stalking. Time to move on.

If I ever do see him, though, he’s owed a hearty congratulations – because this one-Man(c)-band has scrabbled together a great song:

Piran // Rip Off

Being a one-man operation is a minefield of pros and cons – on one hand, you have total creative control and, unless you have a personality disorder, there will be no messy break-ups due to ‘creative differences’ (though if you do have a personality disorder, it will be an extremely messy break up).

The flip side is that the emphasis is squarely on you: no-one to take the strain when you’re exhausted, and every stumble means a long and lonely trip back to draw from the well of inner strength.

So the fact that Piran, my mysterious stranger, has whelped this pristine jewel of a song by himself is a minor triumph. The song is clearly one person’s work – you can always tell – but Rip Off is measured, quirky, clever and still idiosyncratic.

Piran: neat, charming and fun.

Cake Teeth: Lo-Fi Stripped To The Bone; and Coldplay’s Humour Anomaly

Today, the rarest of treats: the chance to find enjoyment in the actions of Coldplay. Brace yourself.

No, I wouldn’t normally believe it either. But here it is, as plain as day, on their otherwise po-faced website – a joke! From Coldplay! Fetch the (Fair Trade) smelling salts, quick!

As far as April fools’ day jokes go, this was a good one: self-effacing, fun and – by using the classic indie no-hoper’s ‘We just do what we do and if anyone else likes it, that’s a bonus’ line of doom –  razor sharp.

Begrudging respect now earnt, perhaps they could perform a double-whammy by retiring and allowing bands like Cake Teeth to edge into that vast band-void which they occupy.

Cake Teeth // Mouthful Of Television Stars

Cake Teeth‘s modus operandi sounds too simple to work effectively – the set-up involves a man called Steve on a laptop and a man called Sam on the guitar, and ragged, skewed music is the result.

Maybe in the long run this simplicity will prove too limiting, but right now such strict perimeters are paying dividends in the shape of wonky and clattering ultra-lo-fi rock that sounds so alive, it could be being played in the next room. Vocals disappear into one elongated squelch, and drumbeats are as crisp and skinny as fresh celery.

If anything, the bare guitar sounds out of place in such strange and unrefined environs, but I get the feeling that Cake Teeth make music for themselves alone. I also imagine that if anyone else likes it, they’d consider it a bonus. Make their day.

Sunderbans, Lust Campesinos! and THE FUTURE

Watching a band evolve is one of the more enjoyable facets of Indie life. It’s proud parenting for those of us who haven’t delved into the real and complicated world of family life yet.

Look at Los Campesinos!, for example. As their career progressed, I’ve experienced unbridled, novel, joy (their first, dazzling, frantic releases); anxiety at their bratty teenage years (when the once-fun Tweecore sound became grating); and finally, most recently, joy and pride again as maturation has arrived in the form of their new, brilliant, single, Romance Is Boring.

The pay-off for this journey is why so many of us waste hours of otherwise sensible lives trawling for new bands – desperate for another breathless ride on the Rock switchback.

So here’s Sunderbans, and once again, all our hopes are pinned on their talent. No pressure, guys.

Sunderbans // We Only Can Because We Care

Actually, with confident strides like We Only Can Because We Care already made, there seems little chance of Sunderbans buckling under the weight of expectation. We Only Can… rumbles, ominous and hollow, darting tenaciously in and out of every scratchy rock nook and cranny.

First channelling Sonic Youth, then rejecting them with a strident volte-face, Sunderbans are needle sharp, their sound nipping forth, drawing blood and then retreating. This arrangement suits us all, the pricking serving as a reminder of earthly pleasures.

They maintain a strange, alluring distance between them and us. Where will they go from here? What will they do? And how will we feel about that when they get there?

Pengilly’s – Bothering Pedants and Jilting Expectations Since 2009

That’s a mysterious apostrophe isn’t it? A taunting, curious interruption, that begs half a dozen questions, not the least of which is, ‘Who is Pengilly? And just what is it that belongs to them?’

Hopefully it’s (geddit!?!) presence will irritate the crap out of Lynne Truss, the only woman to ever make an extended book career out of being a grammar pedant. Imagine how much fun she’d be at a dinner party.

Pengilly’s, vicious apostrophe and all, however, would be a delight. Especially if they cooed and fluttered their way through the floaty-light Ivan Splits In Two right there, at the dinner table. Well, you have to drown out the Sade CD somehow.

Pengilly’s – Ivan Splits In Two

Starting with a burble, ending on an orchestral high, and bold enough to leave the vocals to half-way through, Ivan Splits In Two takes the long route and walks it, albeit wearing a sensible pear of sandals all the while.

On paper Pengilly’s should be awful – a laptop ‘n’ strings ‘n’ keyboards ‘n’ fey, wide-eyed pop band gushing cheerily – but it turns out that songs like Ivan Splits In Two are a rare foppish joy.

The apostrophe is never explained, and the mystery is all the more welcome. Gentle, ignorant and charming. Just like you and me, dear reader.