>Today’s New Band – Apples

>So, I’m nearly home. As of Monday, the (possibly unique) ANBAD Travelogue/New Band Review Service will be replaced by the simple daily proffering of New Bands, just like in the good ol’ days. In some ways, it’s a shame – writing about bands whilst in a tent pitched on the hill overlooking Karlovac was fun, but tiring. For those who’d like to emulate this attempt, a word of advice: finding wi-fi in eastern Europe is an ‘interesting challenge’.

Conversely, getting back to the metaphorical new band roots is just what’s needed. A three-month, self-indulgent trip around Europe, however, is just what you need if you desire navel-gazing time.

The best band to soundtrack this kind of activity is New Order, a band who I consider one of my favourites almost by default – because, well, it’s New Order. However, my readiness to constantly return to their songs, looking for brilliance, and always finding it, suggests that they connect in some other, more mysterious way.

Now isn’t the time to wonder why, merely to love them for what they are – the producers of the most casually written classic songs ever. The feeling that they have stumbled onto thrilling pop brilliance by accident is always one wonky keyboard stab or clunky lyric away. Perhaps it’s the truth.

Today’s New Band, Apples, like New Order, have a penchant for keyboard-driven jangly pop, and are similarly eager to utilise instruments oft-regarded as uncool. Listen out for the saxophone break in the gloriously chipper song Reason 45 for proof, and then feel your stomach flip next to your heart with pleasure as the dreamiest of choruses bursts: heartfelt, delicious, bitter-sweet, bright.

Just like New Order, Apples’ words, sounds and drive are uncool, unusual and without a definitive plan, and all the better for it. Reason 45 is as good a song as you’ll hear this month, and maybe the next one, too. Whisper it – but it’s an almost perfect pop song. It’s so delightful, so enraptured by the sweet joy of a melody and so enthralled with the simple pleasure of being alive that I can hardly take it. Drown yourself in sunlight, here!

>Today’s New Band – Mazes PLUS! Pub-Sharing With Andy Rourke

>So there’s this guy who drinks in my local pub. He’s in his 40s, and is always dressed in expensive, new, young-ish clothes. He looks like someone – a retired rock star maybe, but not the lead singer or guitarist. I don’t know, someone, like, say, Andy Rourke, from The Smiths.

You can probably now see where this is going, but I couldn’t, and eyeballed him over my pint for a good six months before the cogs in my head finally clicked into place and the little voice piped up, “Look, idiot, it’s Andy Rourke from The Smiths, sitting next to you in the pub.”

Thus, my new claim to fame: I’ve been sitting in the pub with a member of one of my very most favourite bands for months, but didn’t even realise.

And now I do, how do I act next time I see him? Tentative approach for autograph? Awkward chat about bassline composition? Or just the usual nod of neighbourly recognition, and then go back to the usual pub conversations of how all these foreigners are coming over here and stealing our jobs?*

*For those of you who aren’t sure: this is a joke.

Today’s New Band don’t sound like The Smiths, which is good, all things considered. They’re Mazes, and they make lazy, crunchy rock that’s fuzzy enough to scour out your mind and leave you feeling… refreshed.

Bowie Knives, lolloping and kind, is a confident, slow song that is reminiscent of a comforting lie-in after a good night out. Vampire Jive is a quick stab (maybe ‘bite’ is more appropriate) of buzzy pop rock, which seemingly consists of just one chorus after another.

Mazes‘ songs scratch a particular itch that I didn’t know I had. Their songs give you a rush of happy warmth. Yum yum yum. Recommended. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Owl Brain Atlas PLUS! Nightmares! Sweat! Christmas!

>Every morning I walk through Manchester city centre. And every morning I listen to my iPod on the way. So far, so mundane. Like everyone, sometimes I find it tough to match the music with my mood. This morning, though, there was a pleasing moment where I found myself to be in the crossover area of a music/life Venn Diagram.

Perched on a traffic island, between two lanes of thundering, aggro-pumped office-drone drivers, Orbital‘s The Box pinged into life, and suddenly, there was a real-time musical soundtrack seemingly reacting to the furious ebb and flow of the whooshing city life. Feeling detached from the real world, I fairly skipped on through the streets.

It’s amazing that music can tally so closely with what you are doing. I imagine that if i was wandering through the mean streets of Bournemouth – a town memorably described by Bill Bryson as “God’s waiting room” – and Cliff Richard‘s Millennium Prayer popped onto the radio, the world might end in a vortex of synchronicity.

If I found myself in the place where the sounds of Today’s New Band fitted perfectly, I’d probably head for the hills sharpish. Owl Brain Atlas (Yes!!!) make sound that would fit in your most lucid nightmares, or most confusing dreams. Also, let’s just dwell on Owl Brain Atlas‘ name for a second. Barking mad, and yet fittingly weird for the sound-poems of J. D. Nelson, the brains behind the, er, Brain.

He says his music is, “spoken noise, ambient word, lo-fi noise poems, electroacoustic sound art,” and this description is a good example of the nail/head interface being struck cleanly. His music/sound/wordless poetry might sound like a pretentious idea, but it’s executed in a pared-down yet dense manner; substance clearly triumphing over style. Like bad dreams, the ‘songs’ are short, direct and terrifyingly evocative of the clammy panic of a turbulent night’s sleep.

There are separate tracks, with titles like Doktor Tongues, 1 and Music For Zilbread, but listen to them altogether for the full dosage. It’s a heady, dizzy experience that’ll leave you even more thankful for the upcoming comfort of Christmas with your loved ones. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Oh! PLUS! Bomber Jackets and Dubious Political Leanings

>Two heart-warming stories in the news today. Firstly, the final solution, as it were, to the question that has kept all of us awake for the last 50 years – did Adolf Hitler have one or two testicles? The answer, according to UK rag The Sun, is – brace yourselves – only one. So now you know. The second story concerns the leak of those right-wing funsters The BNPs secret membership list.

The list has made all of the BNP’s middle-aged xenophobes a bit hot under the collar. Far-Right political parties like the BNP go out of their way to portray themselves as serious concerns. This list has nicely knocked all that into a cocked hat, owing to the revealing notes next to each member’s details – my favourite of which stated that one member wouldn’t be renewing his membership because he objected to being told off for wearing a bomber jacket.

So now we have learned our second lesson of the day: ultra-right-wingers don’t like to be told not to dress like nightclub bouncers. Poor things. A New Band A Day generally steers clear of politics, so you may be asking – what this has to do with rock ‘n’ roll? Well, not a huge amount, frankly. But after doing a quick search of the database, and finding a truly depressing number of members in my hometown, I needed cheering up. Enter Today’s New Band, Oh!

Oh! are from Guadalajara, which is a whole lot of fun to say out loud, and their songs are short, ethereal bursts of creativity. Listening to them sucks you instantly out of your day-to-day routine, to a happy place that feels a bit like a warm, comfortable bed.

Once Upon A Time is minimalist to the point of almost non-existance, a slow repetetive drone that’s somewhere between a distant pealing of a bell and a slowed-down recording of a heartbeat. Little Jerbil Life Form ping-pongs in the unusual way you’d expect of a song with a name like that.

In some ways Oh!’s songs are half-formed, in the nicest way. Songs like Happy Noaniversary pop in from a starting point you don’t hear, and unravelling before an ending they’ll never get to. Their songs are self-contained and you, the suddenly docile listener, bob along with Oh! on their short, light, peaceful journeys. Hold hands with them here, and forget all about everything, softly and gently.

>Strippers, Lust, Pigeons and Today’s New Band – Hot Like Curry

>I got eyed up by two strippers yesterday, as I was walking through Chinatown. I say ‘eyed up’ – what I mean is that they broke off from their cigarette break out side the strip club, performed that glance-at-your-face-then-shoes-then-face-again routine and carried on talking about thongs or lubricant or whatever it is strippers chat about.

I suppose the reaction to their casting an eye over me was fairly non-descript – there were no deep, longing sighs or anything, but I like to think that the conversation was then all about how truly dreamy it would be if someone like me would lustily tuck ten pound notes into their garters instead of sleazy businessmen.

Walking away, not sure if I felt elated or mildly underwhelmed, it occurred to me that they may well have been chatting about Quantum String Theory, for all I knew. Perhaps they were the kind of strippers from the movies that are only doing it to pay their university fees, and actually have very incisive views on Foucault‘s Post-Structuralist ideals. People aren’t who you might assume them to be.

Take Today’s New Band, Hot Like Curry. They say that they ‘can’t play their own instruments’ (not strictly true) and are ‘a gimmick’ (possibly strictly true). They have one song, Pigeon. “You’re so seedy – we love it really,” they squeal. It’s a great, pocket-sized, buzzsaw song that’s worthy of two minutes of anyone’s time, and then another two minutes. Hot Like Curry have only been in existence for about as long as it’s taken me to type this, which frankly, is reason enough to feature them on ANBAD.

Hot Like Curry sound like a roomful of teenage girls having a ton o’ fun with the twin powers of guitars and yelping, but who knows, they could be an offshoot from a Women’s Institute music project, or teenage boys with very high voices. It could have been those two strippers. Who cares, it’s about as new and fun as any song you’ll hear for, like, ages – so listen to it here!

>Today’s New Band – Mi-Kuhmi

>I’ve got a headache today. That’s why all the following sentences are short and childlike, to match my mindset and attention span. It was there when I woke up as a kernel of a headache – a suggestion of a headache, if you like – and has slowly bloomed into the thumping, head-in-vice throbber that is located between the eyes at the moment. How unfair. This aggression will not stand, brain.

Fortunately, one of music’s most compelling traits is the ability to, y’know, make you feel stuff. Feelings come from the brain, and my brain is what is hurting now. Perhaps one can affect the other. This, I fear, is classically flawed male logic, but I’m willing to put it to the test.

Popping out of the silver foil and emerging as Today’s New Band is Mi-Kuhmi, who may or may not be minor Klingon character in Star Trek. I don’t usually quote what bands have to say about themselves, but Mi-Kuhmi‘s description of the songs as, “tiny desperate songs which talk about sadness, love, nature, future, past, happiness, bubbles, knifes, chairs, everything or just nothing,” is quite lovely.

The songs themselves are like glimpses of other songs, sound-ideas and noises that Mi-Kuhmi likes and wants to keep a record of, lest they disappear forever. In that respect they’re very human, and very touching. They’re also very short, very unusual and very non-melodic but with titles like Kohi, Eki and Toupie, you could probably guess that.

They’re not songs. They’re not supposed to be. It’s aspirin to be taken aurally, twice a day, with meals – get your dispensation here.

>Today’s New Band – 747Music

>One accusation that I sometimes hear levelled at the truly incredible Boards Of Canada is that they’ve found a ‘sound’, and just ground out three albums’ worth of songs that are all slight variations on a theme. There is probably an element of truthiness in this, but frankly, fans of BoC don’t care. They just want MORE, because even assuming that BoC are a one-trick pony, it’s such a wonderful trick, complaining just sounds silly.

But what would BoC sound like, if, you know, they shuffled things up a bit? Well, maybe somewhere close to Today’s New Band, 747Music. Hailing from Ontario, 747Music is a self-confessed BoC nut, as an initial listen to his music will confirm. The love of softly and harshly deformed analogue-y sounds are all there as well as the samples of voices, and the tasty beats. But his work is no mere copying exercise – Untitled is a rolling, crunchy electric behemoth and Electric Epiphony is 10 times harder and faster than anything BoC have ever done, punching forward until it falls to bits. The songs are short, lilting and worm their way into your mind, and in some ways, they’re mini-epics – a series of mental day trips, if you will. Worth a listen, without doubt – so do so here!

Today’s Glib Comparison: Well, yes. Boards Of Canada having sex with The BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Whilst, inevitably, The Pixies watch, silently.

>Today’s New Band – Grandmaster Gareth

>Brevity, as anyone who has sat through the full-length version of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Freebird will testify, can be merciful. I’ve had power naps shorter than Freebird. Freebird is so long that you could boil three eggs, one after another, whilst listening to it. You could boil two of them during the guitar solo. If you did this at a Lynyrd Skynyrd gig, by the end of the song, you’d have enough hard-boiled eggs to throw one at each band member – which is useful, and eco-friendly.

Today’s New Band, Grandmaster Gareth, however, could play a bare minimum of 10 songs during the same amount of time. Grandmaster Gareth, you see, specialises in one-minute long songs. He calls them, suitably enough, ‘Minute Melodies’. Remarkably, although each song is only 60-ish seconds long, each seems fully formed as a song, with snippets of stories, super tunes and a fearsome sense of fun will invade your ears. Most of the melodies in his songs are so super-duper that many a musician would expand them into a full song. Not Gareth, though, who has realised that short ‘n’ sweet means that the songs are always regarded as tasty morsels – musical tapas, if you will.

Listen to all of the songs on his Myspace page – go on, it’ll only take 6 minutes – and chuckle with glee at the wall-to-wall diversity of his musical treats. Dr. Dre’s imagined tussles with the mundanity of life pop up as a reoccurring theme in his songs, with Dr Dre Gets Complacent only rivalled by Dr. Dre Buys A Pint Of Milk for true every-day Gangsta status. Organs, brass, computer noise samples, old clips from films and TV shows are all tossed into the mix and out pops a mini fairground meisterwerk each time. Grandmaster Gareth: touched by musical genius – but only for a minute. Listen to his songs here!