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.


Bastardgeist: Lilting Persuasively, Creeping Suggestively

I’m going to a music college today to talk to students about How To Promote Yourself To Music Blogs. No, I’m not sure why they didn’t ask someone more suitable either.

I was fairly certain that this talk was going to take up a lot less than its allotted time, as the advice could be boiled down to ‘make sure you have three great songs’, and then I realised I was simply kidding myself.

Because, as my regular reader will know (Hi, Dad!), if there’s one other thing that guarantees attention – on this blog at least – it’s a band name that is prickly enough to snag the attention of a jaded music reviewer.

Slotting neatly into this  suspiciously weighty sub-category of Bands Whose Names Were Always Going To Ensure Them A Spot On ANBAD are Bastardgeist.

In truth, Bastardgeist would have clawed their way onto this website even if their name was something  drippy and tedious – like, oh, I don’t know, ‘Coldplay’ – because their music is so deliriously beguiling.

Let me indulge in the act of rummaging around my foibles a little longer and let’s de-construct the idea that this band’s name could be a portmanteau of bastard and poltergeist: two terms which could easily describe the salty, ethereal quality of lovely songs like Cabbageheads.

Cabbageheads is so hypnotically coiling and entrancing, it might escape your notice exactly how delicate and careful the song is: constructed from scraps of thinly translucent sounds so that the sounds merge imperceptibly with the world around us – diffusing light, skewing perceptions.

Bastardgeist make wholly gorgeous music, looping gently, lilting persuasively and creeping suggestively. So that’s the secret. Pay attention, class.


Raliegh Moncreif Vs. Steve Vai: The Shred-Off

Sometimes people ask me to explain exactly why writing about a new band every day is a good idea, a question that is hard to readily answer.

After chuntering some platitudes about how I believe in new artists or want to put something back, I quickly change the topic, knowing full well that the prior words aren’t totally true, but that I couldn’t think of a better thing to say.

But finally I have found a definitive item to justify what I do. It’s this video of noodling guitar oddball Steve Vai entirely unselfconsciously playing a three necked guitar. Of course, by using the word ‘playing’, I actually mean ‘ludicrously shredding for ten minutes as a rapt audience of middle-aged men whoop excitedly’.

Raliegh Moncrief is probably not a real name, and so at least the most ludicrous thing about this artist is deliberately affected.

He doesn’t spend half an hour on stage plucking at a ridiculous instrument whilst pulling disturbing sex-faces – instead he concentrates on making thrilling, loopy little pop songs like Guppies.

Music like this, or one of its longer companions Lament For Morning, is exhilarating in its spontaneity and its rough-edged vigour; cycling madly, writhing, thrashing, looking to evolve before our very ears.

Raleigh Moncrief // Lament for Morning

And so, Raliegh Moncrief is, indeed, one of the reasons why I write about new bands every day. Wildly inspired, hungrily creative and entirely unpretentious. Almost exactly the opposite of Steve Vai. Super.


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.

Yanmolby; and Blur, Oasis, Trapezoids

Togetherness is good. Sharing is caring. It’s nice to be nice.

Look at the lengthy comments clustering around this opinion piece on live gigs from a few weeks ago, and wonder how much better off we’d all be if bands and audiences actually got together to chat.

Rather than eyeing each other suspiciously from opposite grimy corners of their local venue and sullenly exchanging trapezoidally mis-cut flyers as if they were at an anti-capitalist rally, what if they collaborated, shared and revealed?

Indie music has always been tribal, reaching its bowel-loosening nadir in 1995’s Oasis Vs Blur fiasco – and the only beneficiary has been the  industry coffers.

This is not just a shame, it’s a catastrophe of sorts: how many kids who determinedly identify themselves with Arctic Monkeys, say, would give Yanmolby the time of day?

Yanmolby // I’m A Blur

Two of Yanmolby ‘make the beats’. Another plays the bass. It sounds like the middle-class-attempt-to-be-cool from hell, but this assessment is miles wide of the mark. I’m A Blur is a sneakily brilliant assault on the dancefloor, the frontal lobe and your speed-freak heart.

All dance music is repetitive, insistent and driving, but there’s a razor-thin line between ‘drab looping noise’ and ‘delicate/thundering ingenuity’. Guess which side Yanmolby fall on?

Organ Morgan, False Memories and Summer All Year Long

The combination of getting older and being in possession of a mind that is hard-wired to remember even the most minor musical trivia forever has it’s flaws, I can tell you.

An example of the mysteries of the human mind: when an email about Organ Morgan* popped into my inbox, the band that pinged into my head was 1999 very-minor-sensation M. Organ, who (briefly) wrote Money Mark-esque ditties on his Hammond Organ, and then disappeared without trace.

When you can’t find someone on Google, you know that either a) times are hard for that artist, or b) your subconscious has made the memory up to make life that bit more complex. Both situations have their own worrying conclusions, and thus Organ Morgan*‘s E-Z Serv, soft-scoop, grab-bag pop is all the more welcome a distraction.

Organ Morgan – Broken Heart

If Broken Heart is a remix of the Spiritualized song of the same name, then he’s done a fine job of removing all of that version’s heroin-misery and replacing it with dreamy, orange-hued pleasure.

In a time when everyone with a laptop and a pirated copy of Fruity Loops is a producer, here’s a man who really knows what he’s doing, sculpting outrageously lovely songs with the finesse of someone who’s spent their whole life immersed in great songs.

Morgan Organ*‘s dreamy, skittering, summertime songs will inevitably draw comparisons with The Avalanches, but how can that be a bad thing? And apparently, he’s made a 26-track, alphabetically-themed album. This man might be my hero. A warm, golden delight. Expect big things.

*NB: Organ Morgan is now know as Channel Swimmer:

>In The City Special: Egyptian Hip Hop

The opinion heat-haze of In The City means that an unbiased view of a band becomes impossible. As many people will rave over an average, or downright dull band as those who froth over a good one. You quickly realise that listening to opinion at ITC is almost always a waste of time.

For example: I was told that Egyptian Hip Hop were, variously, ‘rude’, ‘piss-poor’, ‘six out of ten’ and ‘a lot of old tits’. I had to see them. And as it turned out – guess what? – they were all wrong. Well, maybe not about the ‘rude’ bit. They weren’t rude as such, but maybe a little easing of the surliness wouldn’t go amiss.

Still, they were more inventive and had a couple of songs that were better than almost all of the showcased bands. Skinnier than heroin addicts, and sporting fringes that started a millimetre above the ear, they ground out one catchy, looping cranky pop song after the other. Wait – let me stress the vastness of their fringes again: one band member was practically 90% fringe – it looked like he had trained a large hairy dog to sit on his head.

The drummer wore a swine-flu face mask. The band swapped instruments for each song. No smiles were cracked at any point. They were so androgynous, they may have been bred in giant petri dishes. Songs like Heavenly were, indeed, ethereal, curious and new, and Rad Pitt (Pun alert!) is a skewed pop delight.

Strange but true: Egyptian Hip Hop are better than anyone wants to admit. Don’t believe the (lack of) hype. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Pouff

>It was a public holiday over the weekend and so I camped with my girlfriend on a beach in west Wales. The sun blazed, and slowly sank over the sea, turning everything a deep, rich orange. We dozed and crisped up in the heat, had a barbecue and a bonfire, and then slept some more. It was heaven.

It’s funny how, in a world where material goods are pushed more than ever as the solution to all our problems, that a camping trip, a barbecue and a good snooze – with a combined cost of less than a couple of CDs – could still trump any fleeting buzz of happiness brought on by buying a stumping up for a new shiny black plastic gadget.

Music can be grouped in the same ‘less is more’ bracket – music can be as cheap or expensive as you like, but get it right and it’ll give you more joy than just about anything. Today’s New Band know a lot about joy: Pouff (for it is they) crank out musical fun with carefree abandon.

If songs like Peanuts and Ice Cream were piped into commuter trains, then we’d have a world of dementedly happy office-drones, instead of the miserable ones that alight every morning at the station. Listening to the song is like being rhythmically slapped in the face by a clown, bouncing with manic glee.

Wisely choosing not to deviate to far from the ‘Keep It Stupid, Stupid’ template, Butt Kiss hammers, howls and echoes with crazed spontaneity. And does Chicken Farts sound like windy poultry? Well, yes, frankly it does – funky, gaseous fowl.

Pouff: happier than Happy Hardcore, dumber than a bus-full of Premiership footballers and as springy as a pile of mattresses. Deliriously daft FUN. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – [INSERT CREDITS]

>If you need any proof that the music business is as box-of-frogs, bat-shit, [insert ‘zany’ euphemism here] crazy as ever, just look at the case of Franz Ferdinand. A few years ago, they were all over the music press like a bad suit. Their first album sold squillions, driven by the neat, catchy singles that kept dropping off it. They could do no wrong.

Except, of course, in Rock Music World, they could. Well, not them exactly. In fact, not really them at all. They made the numbskull mistake of releasing another good album of cleverer, catchier songs. But Rock Music World kept up its relentless, spinning pace, desperately hoovering up the new, the young and the easily fooled, and Franz Ferdinand became one of those bands.

You know, those ones. The ones that you know are bright, sharp, exciting and big – except you’re not bothered enough to buy their album, and really, when was the last time you heard them on the radio anyway?

Today’s New Band, [INSERT CREDITS] can gain comfort from the fact that their down-beat and quirky instrumentalism veers neatly around Rock ‘n’ Roll hyperbole. That [INSERT CREDITS]‘ music isn’t the usual Boards Of Canada/Aphex Twin knock-off is refreshing enough; that their music is funky, new and lithe as well is a minor joy.

The music samples this and that, looping funk stabs with film score swoops – and songs like Steal This Song jog and glide with a confident swagger. Invisible Robots is part 50’s Sci-Fi shocker and part glistening late-night slumber-beats.

Gordon Street has the nerve to sample Lou Reed‘s Perfect Day and Wayne’s World 2, and to turn them into a feedback-drenched freakout. Common Enemy is twitchy and nervous; a strange, theremin-‘n-drums, paranoid, step back in time.

[INSERT CREDIT]‘s Myspace page is crammed full of their songs, and they’re all a trip into the groove-laden Twilight Zone that is apparently hidden in a far corner of our minds. Exciting, weird and inventive. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Alan MX!

>Now and again, a band or artist pokes a hole through the beige dullness that is the musical space-time continuum. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ve done anything particularly inventive – anyone can play a bunch of samples in a semi-random order and cause ears to prick up – but Today’s New Band innovates, teasing something new out of the limp heap that is pop music.

This wet finger in the ear of drab musical ordinariness is Alan MX, whose music is skewed, restrained, and new. Warpsicord is one of the most accurately descriptive song titles you’ll find – a song that forces mutations from simple musical instrumental sounds. This is where awkwardness and lushness overlap, creating its own musical Venn diagram.

Captain America Video tickles Twee-Pop, Lo-Fi, swooning instrumentation, thumping disco pop and twitchy laptop fiddling, but doesn’t linger near any of them for too long. Songs like Flesh Emergency are a delight – airy, shiny and sleazy all at once. His songs never trip over their own strangeness, but create their own space where it all just seems right.

Scuttling to form his own path, Alan MX‘s music is unusual enough to live and clever enough to thrive. Lovely. Listen here!