>Today’s New Band – The Witch and The Robot

Oh yes, I’ve been to Cumbria. For the uninitiated, it’s the very northern, remote part of England; full, as I remember, of natural beauty, rain and – in Barrow-in-Furness at least – very large and intimidating men. It’s also the home of the strange and brilliant band British Sea Power, whose album The Decline Of British Sea Power is an oft-overlooked classic.

Today’s New Band, The Witch And The Robot, are from the same green, lush part of the world and are championed by, indeed, British Sea Power. This is as suitable recommendation as any, and The Witch And The Robot don’t disappoint. The same air that gave BSP a crazed edge has blessed a second band with a similarly obtuse outlook on life.

The Best Free Show On Earth whistles one flute-loop over and over so many times that an entirely unexpected Orbital-esque feel blossoms out of the song’s lovely, Byrds-y, sun-soaked roots.

That song is shot with vanilla-flavoured normality in comparison to Sex Music (Beef On Wax), which is a song in several, absurd, contemplative parts. It starts here, then peers over there, and then is suddenly distracted by something else. You know how you’ve always longed for a song that combines safari parks, feline disaster, cod-funk and spoken-word pieces? Well, prepare to sleep easily again: you’ve found your perfect song.

Despite the cream-pie attacks at their gigs, The Witch And The Robot aren’t zany-kids-TV-pranks crazy, they’re just wildly inventive; free-association idea-forming as they play their old/new songs carefully and cleverly. They don’t deserve sympathy, or confusion, or apathy – just your full attention.

>The overthrowing of humanity by Muso-Robots, and Today’s New Band – ALASALAKALASKA

>Human bands are history! A bold proclamation, true, but look at the facts in this video of robo-band The Trons. At the very least, The Trons demonstrate that even crudely-cobbled together bits of old hoovers and Meccano can make better music than The Kooks. Final proof then, that when computers take over the planet and they become our MERCILESS ROBOT OVERLORDS, things won’t be so bad after all.

The Trons aren’t today’s new band, because whilst they are better than the majority of the lumpen nonsense-mongers that call themselves bands, robots just don’t count. When a robot is aware enough to find that comment discriminatory, I’ll alter my stance, but not before.

Today’s New Band are actually Alasalakalaska. No, I haven’t managed to say it out loud correctly yet either, and no, they’re not from professional moron Sarah Palin’s home state. It’s a complicated name which might make them virtually impossible to ever be found via Google, but maybe that’s what they want.

Actually, it’s supposed to be read ‘Alas, Alak, Alaska,’ which, whilst being much more coherent is actually a bit less fun to type. On that basis alone, I’ll stick with the long, incoherent spelling for now.

Alasalakalaska are a strange, pleasant combo of rigid beats, flautists, wobbly vocals and catchy tunes. Crystal Power Attack, woozy, dreamy and echoing, left me feeling slightly drunk and happily confused as it wove its way to a clinking, jolting end.

In Finick While Clicking It’s…, they are confident enough to bolt a lovely, looping quasi-chorus to a lovely, looping song, not worrying too much about traditional composition or structure. It sounds almost entirely new – it may as well have been written by a music-producing computer programme that hasn’t quite been finished yet. Perhaps today’s new band is The Trons after all.

This all means that today, I have learnt two things:

  1. Perhaps The Kooks should lock their instruments in a room with some old washing machines and grandfather clocks, and maybe they’ll release a half-decent album;
  2. Alasalakalaska are wonderful, lilting and overwhelmingly unusual, all of which are reasons enough to listen to their songs here!

>Today’s New(-ish) Band – Dawn Landes

>There are no real hard and fast rules for bands appearing on A New Band A Day. We’re strong believers that there’s no merit in consistency. Some bands we feature on A New Band A Day are so new that they’ve still got the umbilical cord attached, look a bit jaundiced and have only received a hundred or so visitors on their MySpace page. The thought that our humble l’il webs(h)ite has poked a few more people their way makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And a little bit smug too, but that’s more of an ongoing personal issue that frankly needs to be resolved sharpish.

Other bands we feature are a little less “new” in terms of how long they’ve been making music, but are still unknown enough to warrant featuring. We still feel warm and fuzzy about this too. THUS: Today’s New(-ish) Band is Dawn Landes. Dawn’s already recorded her second album of lovely, folky songs and is about to embark on a world tour. Her Myspace page is brimming with these simple, breezy songs, like Straight Lines, though slightly thrillingly, songs like Kissing Song start to transcend folk simplicity approach buzzy acousto-noise as the track finishes. But for easy, sugar-hooked-up-to-the-artery excitement, just listen to her Bluegrass-style cover of the ubiquitous whistle-fest that is Peter, Bjorn and John’s Young Folks. If that isn’t an example of a cover surpassing the original, I’m a blinkered idiot.*

So how does an artist whose most fun-filled song is a cover and is releasing albums and touring the globe even warrant featuring on a website that is dedicated to new bands? Because of this: no-one knows how to pronounce her name. Go on, try it. Did you say “Dawn Land-es”, “Dawn Lands” or the Francais-style “Dawn Land-ay”? This was the deciding factor. If you produce great music, but the pronunciation of your name is a mystery, you’re new enough.

Listen to her music on her MySpace page here!

*this may be statement of fact, not hyperbole