>Volcanoes: Five Great Bands, One Super Price!

Another day, another splash in the swimming pool of confusion, and all centred around one simple question: who are Volcanoes?

The trad-guitar-band that makes carefully crafted folky guitar jangles like The Room With The Red Door? The scratchy, horn-tinted, aggro-crunch band of Temple? Or the band that makes an entirely unexpected, possibly dubious, semi-rap-rock of Making Progress?

Rule #1 of ANBAD‘s puddled outlook on life is there’s no merit in consistency, and Volcanoes are certainly avid subscribers to this theory. Their attention spans must rival that of a gnat’s, and they’re all the better for it.

Temple is, at the very least, a fascinating, writhing, spasmodic riddle of a song, flitting here and there, gleefully trying new sounds and styles within a single song. It’s ADHD-rock and it’s a thrill-a-minute, literally.

Volcanoes – Temple

Then compare and contrast it with the gonzo rock of Trick of The Light. Then wonder about he band meetings when new songs are debuted. Then dare to imagine the agonies of compiling a coherent setlist.

Don’t believe the people who tell you to play it steady, keep it safe. Yes, you’ll probably get somewhere faster, but the ride will be duller. Volcanoes are having a blast. Go figure.

>Today’s New Band – Radiant Dragon

My attitude towards the proliferation of Guitar Hero-esque games has been to wonder why you’d bother spending all that money on a game, some plastic guitar-shaped controllers and an Xbox when you can buy the real instruments for about the same price and have, you know, a real band. And I’m not sure I buy the assertions of Metallica‘s James Hatfield that the plastic Gibson Explorer of Guitar Hero: Metallica is a ‘gateway drug’ to playing an actual guitar.

But here’s something to change all those snobby opinions: it’s The Beatles Rock Band and it looks like it might be actual fun. It’s almost as if some bright spark recognised that the Beatles videogame ought to have a bit of effort put into it; accordingly, you can now live out all your Beatles fantasies – albeit in your living room along with some hideously expensive imitation instruments. But just think: you can now be Ringo warbling Yellow Submarine, all whilst racking up “Double Fab Bonuses”, whatever they are.

I don’t know whether Today’s New Band, Radiant Dragon, harbour latent wanna-Beatles ambition, but they sure know how to make ace pop tunes.

Oysters is a brilliant, swirling, psychedelic jab of pop, filled to the brim with skittering drum loops, weird sounds and melodies more catchy than Swine Flu. Taman is ear-deep in polyrythms, and refuses to buckle as layer after layer of chewy, enticing sound gets piled on top of one another.

Radiant Dragon lubricate songs like Cold Ghost – that could have been clumsy and obtuse – and make them bristle with life. Instruments squelch, shimmer and punch, and the listener can only marvel at the pleasantries of it all.

Some bands pop up unexpectedly and make songs that twist and turn exactly as you’d want them to, just as you’d like them to. Radiant Dragon do this, blithely and simply, with oodles of good-time swagger. A treat. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – A Death Cinematic

>There has been an outbreak of bed bugs in the USA. There are ‘regular and persistent’ outbreaks from New York to San Fransisco. They have become impervious to pesticides. They are going top take over the world and parasitically enslave us all. Yes, I’m now itching all over too. No, I won’t sleep too soundly tonight either.

With that in mind, take Today’s New Band, A Death Cinematic, who have a song which sounds like one long, harrowing wail of human horror. It’s called Locust Clouds Have taken To The Horizon. It’s so close to being awful guttural noise that it’s a challenge of sorts to listen to it, albeit a rewarding and thrilling one.

Brilliance Of The First Morning Snow soothes and evaporates, leaving calm; conversely, When I Leave I Wish To Kill The Sun takes the sound of the apocalypse as a starting point and explores the resultant parched, dusty devastation. Guitar feedback wails and stabs and drones until you’ve forgotten what not hearing it sounds like.

The planets are aligning, and the die is cast. Our insect-ridden future awaits. Listen to A Death Cinematic, and await your fate.

>Today’s New Band – Mongrel

>Supergroups! Don’t you just love their best-of-all-worlds approach to music? Well, no, not usually. Taking X guitarist and Y drummer from a number of big bands often equates to devastatingly bland groups like Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Asia and more recently, Velvet Revolver, who had all the bombast of all their respective mother groups, but with none of the tunes. I can’t even whistle any of the songs by The Good, The Bad and The Queen, who actually endeavoured to create something more than a mere vanity project out of their enticing Blur/Clash/Verve/Tony Allen combination.

None of this bodes well for Today’s New Band, Mongrel, does it? As the name bluntly insinuates, they’re comprised of musicians from all over the shop. The members and ex members of Arctic Monkeys, Babyshambles, Reverend and The Makers, as well as ace producer-artists Adrian Sherwood, Jagz Kooner and Low Key that whelped Mongrel must have, at some point, sat in a room, and thought, “Perhaps this Supergroup thing might work this time, for us.”

And you know what? It does. Their music is one of those rare collaborative efforts where all the member’s respective influences are audible, blending craftily together to form something new, instead of fighting for prominence. Dub, indie and hip-hop sprawl around in Mongrel‘s tightly focused songs, and in some ways, each song is enjoyable merely because the sound works so well. The fact that the songs are good as well is the proverbial icing on the proverbial cake.

Better Than Heavy is a heavy, twanging and dubby lollop that is as inventive as it is fun, pinging form here to there without compromising any ideals. And song Barcode shouldn’t work. It just shouldn’t. No sane mind would try to make such desperate worlds collide, but Mongrel must be collectively crazy, because it sounds just right.

Political and angry in a time when most people are too bothered about the latest minutiae of Britney’s latest weight loss/gain too get angry about anything, let alone politics, Mongrel are a band that might not end up being loved by millions. The fact that all this was even possible should thrill even the most cynical heart, though. They are doing everything they can to make their voices heard, and great tunes, intelligent thoughts and a fierce determination are the best place to start. This is what they’ve got, in spades, so listen here, now!

>Today’s New Band – Gum Takes Tooth

>This time of year usually requires an anti-spring clean. Whereas in April, the compulsion is to ditch armfuls of superfluous crud – novelty Christmas presents whose batteries have finally run out, crockery that is so chipped you keep gashing your hand every time you carelessly hold them, etc. – as of now, it’s the time to feather the nest in readiness for winter. Sweep the rubbish back into your life and luxuriate in the organised chaos of clutter.

Perhaps this is a rule that could be readily applied aurally too. Summertime is all about a combination of relaxing songs to listen to in the sun and abhorrently catchy Eurohits, but now we’re plunging into the dark depths of Autumn/Winter, maybe we need a new (old) broom to sweep back in the grime.

Step forward, then, Today’s New Band, Gum Takes Tooth, two bizarro noisemakers from London.
Lofty Thatch begins at a BAZILLION miles an hour and keeps it foot pressed to the floor, laughing maniacally at all the puny earthlings bouncing off the windshield. Imagine building your own Monster Truck out of scrap tanks, oil drums, spaceships and bazookas, and then driving the whole thing through the set of Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome – your resultant noise (and probably the peril you’d create) would sound similar to this.

Another of their noise-scapades, Grommet Saga, is the sound that only you can hear inside your head when a particularly drunken dentist is making exploratory drilling into your molars. Except it’s a slightly more bloody experience.

Gum Takes Tooth: deliberately obtuse. The sound of the your immediate, unnerving future: listen here.

>Insecticide Lobotomy – Today’s New Band

>When I recently went to see My Bloody Valentine, the general consensus as we staggered out of the venue, wiping the blood from our ears, was that it was entirely unlike any other gig we’d ever been to. There was no moshing, no singing along and no middle-aged men standing near the back ‘appreciating’ the band, just a room full of shell-shocked gawpers struggling to comprehend the savage softness of the noise that was comically blowing their hair backwards and flapping their collars around.

The other universally agreed point was that the experience of having carefully constructed white noise smash your ears into submission was actually intensely calming, and we left in a strangely Zen-like state which was only later voided by cut-price rum at the Star and Garter. Still, we were left in no doubt of the powerful enjoyment to be had from ridiculous noise. Thus, push cotton wool into your ears now and prepare to be overwhelmed by Today’s New Band, Insecticide Lobotomy.

The sounds Josh from Insecticide Lobotomy makes are, in effect, just noise – but put together with such care and precision that it’s ridiculously enjoyable. Rotor Disc is the sound of you being locked inside a steel drum and then someone using a blunt circular saw to buzz you out. Toxic Waste Drum grinds, growls and hisses and Late Night Practice is deeply dark and intimidating.

The only realistic course of action you can take listening to the music is to just let go and allow it to wash all over you – a tsunami of spasmodically repetitive high- and low-end fuzz boring into your brain and removing all thoughts except acknowledgement of the noise itself. It’s a great, cathartic sluicing-out of of all other music from your mind, and whilst it’s a tough listen at times, you’ll miss it the second the sounds stop. Lovely, soft/hard, confusing stuff. Listen to it all here!

>Today’s New Band – Microwave Window

>Jesus Christ Monkey Balls, the process of choosing Today’s New Band was akin to pulling teeth. No, actually, it was worse – physical pain is only temporary, but the mental scars from today will never fade, and will lurk in the corner of my addled mind to taunt me again just when I least expect it. It was a classic example of one of those moments when you just can’t decide what CD to put on, and end up spending half an hour staring mutely at your shelves of CDs, reading the names and mentally writing them off as ‘not quite right for now’, whilst a pool of dribble from your limp jaw starts to moisten your socks.

In the end, just when I was about to start knawing on my fists with frustration, I found the band I wanted, having skipped over any number of lovely Swedish jangly guitar bands and stereotypical French BANGIN’ CHOON merchants.

On most days those bands would have had me farting with glee, but today, the desire for a deliberately obtuse, brain-spazz noise-spewer crept up my trouser leg and grabbed me by the balls. As such, after the painful ordeal of searching for the right noise to satiate this idiot desire, one band stood out like a WAG in Lidl.

Thus, Today’s New Band is the wonderful Microwave Windows. They have no songs, as such. What they do have is mind-fisting noise that is possibly sucked from the skies of a planet in a different solar system at the precise moment that their local sun decides to explode. Microwave Windows say that they use, “the Multimode Delay Line Distribution System (MDLDS) to generate 600 MW pulses for the accelerator by storing RF power from multiple klystrons and switching that power to the appropriate accelerator sections”. This may or may not be nonsense, but when you’ve heard the sounds on their Myspace page, it’ll sound all too plausible. Or your thought processes will be too garbled to know if it is or not. Listen to their logic-destroying noise now, and then listen to a song you know and love. It’ll sound sparkling, chiming and new. Microwave Windows are an enema for the mind. Awesome.