>Today’s New Band – Something Like Fire PLUS! Philosophy!


What do you call glasses with no glass in them? This quasi-philosophical query popped into my life yesterday, as I was wandering strolling down Oxford Road in Manchester. Lost in my own pompous sense of raffish manliness, donning a new, grown-up coat, I pondered on how devilishly suave I was looking, in a 1930’s gumshoe kind of way. Usefully, a student interrupted before my head inflated and I floated off into the flight path of passing planes.
There are plenty of students on that particular road, and this one thrust a flyer into my hand, as is the students’ want. It advertised a jumble sale of vintage* clothing. As I involuntarily thanked her, I noticed that she was wearing the kind glasses that your grandmother may have rejected as they’d make her look too ancient. The glasses contained no lenses, and were serving solely as a fashion item.
*dead people’s
Removing an object’s function and leaving it as a useless, purchasable, purely decorative item has its rock equivalent – Scouting For Girls (who we’ve discussed before). Surely it’s more difficult to write vapid music than something that sounds different, at the very least.

Perhaps Today’s New Band, Something Like Fire, have thought about similar issues, because their songs seep different influences with abandon. Mr Shadow sounds like a loud punk song that has had the original fuzz stripped away and a light, tight composition put in its place. It scrapes the 2 1/2 minute mark and yet still flirts with as many original ideas as it can.

While New World Wonder is a more straightforward rock song, it still skitters along, skewed slightly, but importantly, at an angle to normality. White Noise isn’t that at all, but is the most calming and engaging lift music ever, clicking and clucking for its own amusement.

Something Like Fire cut a path of their own idiosyncratic making. Their songs are defiantly obtuse enough to be interesting, and tuneful enough to be enjoyable. A good balance? Put it this way – if more bands aimed for the same traits maybe the world (OK, just the pop charts) would be a better place. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – The Paraffins PLUS! "And now, we return to the classics"


Do you know what the best thing about Lou Reed‘s Transformer is? No, not Walk On The Wild Side. Nor that Mick Ronson and David Bowie’s mucky fingerprints are all over it like a cheap, sleazy suit. Not even that the backing vocalists were called The Thunderthighs.
The best thing about Transformer is the first ten seconds of Vicious, the first track, up to the point where the guitar squeals for the first time, just after Lou has drawled his first languidly wired lyric.

It’s possibly the most direct, hit-the-ground-running start to any album, piercing into your mind like a diamond knitting needle. Everything you need to know about Transformer‘s wide-eyed and paranoid brilliance is in those first ten seconds.

If the rest of the album was full of clunkers (and duff songs like Make Up try hard enough), the wonderful statement of intent that is Vicious would still make the album a dazzling classic. That some of the most dreamily gorgeous songs ever written – try to listen to Perfect Day or Satellite Of Love without welling up -accompany it make the album a pristine moment of joy, crystallised forever.
But if it had only had that one opener, it’d still be beautiful. That’s why hearing a new band with only the one good song in their armoury is still reason for celebration. Compilation CDs are full of bands who’ve had one really good song and then never quite managed to best it. Hit-and-miss merchants like Lou Reed should give prospective bands encouragement. He also made Metal Machine Music, remember.
Today’s New Band, The Paraffins, have a couple of good songs, so they’re already ahead of the pack. They’re from a small village in Scotland (with a surprisingly large Wikipedia entry) and create songs that seem to have been scratched together with scraps of this and that, which then suddenly take on a life of their own and become much more than the sum of their parts.
Cardboard Cutout, after a few minutes of increasingly clever polyrythmic staggering, suddenly pops its own bubble and splurges with happiness; allowing itself a few final seconds of unhindered noise.

Guest Haus is another slowly building, give-and-take songs that splits from itself into a house-like keyboard riff-driven songs, albeit one played on a melodica. Mobile phone interference completes its electronically haunted feel.

Something Good bounds along in the manner of an excited puppy, at love with everything and everyone at once. It might even hump your leg if you stand too close.
The Paraffins surprised me. Most bands with their resolutely DIY ethic try hard and end up sounding eager, but often end up falling short because the tunes are missing. The Paraffins have them and know how to use them too. A cut-price ‘n’ classy way to end the week – listen here!

>Today’s New Band – The All New Adventures Of Us PLUS! Hair!

>I snuck into one of the local university’s end of term parties last night. It’s been a while since I was a first-year Uni-botherer. This is what I learned about 18-21 year-old Film and Media students:

  1. The more swept-across your fringe is, the higher your social status. Some fringes started just above the ear. Men appear to have the monopoly on hair-straighteners now.
  2. The Youth are fat. I was nudged by one student who was so rotund that it felt like I was hit by a milk float.
  3. The songs that filled the dancefloor were by MGMT and Kings Of Leon – but you probably guessed that already.

The upside to all this is that, apart from having a good time at someone else’s party, I left feeling more masculine and slim than I have for a long time. It felt like I’d hopped over the dividing line between us men who hit their late teens at the turn of the century, and those doing it about now, in a flurry of careful coiffures.

What will happen when the same young women, currently enjoying the empathetic sensitivity of these men, decide they want shelves putting up, but don’t fancy doing it themselves? You can’t put an Ikea sofa-bed together with nail buffers and eyebrow tweezers.

Today’s New Band, The All New Adventures of Us, also apparently cross great divides – to rehearse, though – as for them, ‘home’ is listed as Northampton and Dundee. There were about 400 miles between the two cities last time I looked, which must make those weekly meetings in the pub to discuss the fine details of the liner notes for the next single just that bit more complicated. (A note to the band: Barrow-In-Furness is about your half-way meeting point – and they have a nightclub on a boat, complete with pole dancers and intimidatingly pumped men. Ah, good times.)

Still, all that supposed trundling up and down the M6 must give them plenty of time and cramped space to write their nicely bitty pop songs. And for the second day running, there’s have a song with horns driving the melody – the bouncy Firetruck Doki Doki, full of vim and gentle rhymes. It scores extra bonus marks for having a kind of double false ending – biggest and best rock trick in the book. St. Crispin’s Got Our Backs is expansive and large, but TANAOU still manage to keep their indie-ness intact.

Maybe The All New Adventures Of Us are a band for today – young, sensitive and wide-eyed – but without the mindless hair fixation or flab. Listen here!

>Spanish Horns, Change and Today’s New Band – Sincerely, Iris

>One of the problems of constantly searching for new bands to feature on A New Band A Day is that, having heard all the great new stuff out there, all the music on my iPod is left sounding stale and old. I’ll frequently spend 10 minutes spooling through all the bands on it, only managing to think of reasons not to listen to them. Why listen to an old Mansun album when you could be playing the new bunch of craziness from Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs?

Well, as I reminded myself yesterday when my iPod picked it on shuffle, because it’s great, and that’s why you bought it in the first place, you sieve-memoried-idiot. Mansun‘s vaguely stupidly-titled Attack of the Grey Lantern is a wonderfully overblown, pompous rock epic, nestling somewhere between daft camp and deft rock heroics, I rediscovered.

Today’s New Band is a bit of a change from the norm. Sincerely, Iris is a folky singer/songwriter who sticks out from the usual ANBAD fare of buzzy guitar crazies and bleepy weirdos like a pork chop in the rabbi’s pocket, in the determinedly offensive words of my old Art teacher, Mr Baker.

If I’m being honest, his type of music is the kind that I’d usually skip over. The whole male voice/acoustic guitar thing usually dredges up horrible memories of Damien Rice, which is tantamount to torture, or at least a waterboarding-type ‘interrogative technique’, in my eyes. Deja Vu, though, is such a rambling, shuffling and urgent song that my preconceptions were rightly swept aside. Also, it’s got Spanish Horns on it, for crap’s sake. I love Spanish Horns.

Boys, Girls and Fools is the kind of plaintive love song which appeals to the tiny fraction of my heart which isn’t black and withered, and maybe this is the lesson for today. Even if you’re avowedly against something, there’s always an exception that finds a gap and pierces home. However much I wanted one of the songs to suddenly explode into Primal Scream’s Accelerator, ultimately, I’m glad it didn’t.

So change is as good as a rest. Listen here, and keep listening even if it’s not usually your thing. You might surprise yourself. Talking of change, that Irish guy, O’Bama, won too. Good on him.

>Über-Tramps, Emogedden and Today’s New Band – E.K. Wimmer

>I was stopped in the street by a homeless guy at lunchtime. There’s nothing too unusual about that – there are plenty in the park near ANBAD Towers. The park seems to serve as a kind of Tramp Créche, and usually, they potter around happily, drinking Frosty Jack’s cider and worrying the middle classes. Anyway, this particular unsteady guy asked me for money. In fact, what he specifically said was, “Excuse me mate, have you got any spare change? I need eleven pence.” Eleven pence? Specifically eleven? Why?

This was an unusual tactic, and nearly threw me from my usual tactic of gruffly mumbling, “no,” whilst feeling slightly empty inside and walking on, but I held firm and screwed him out of his 11p. Such left-field thinking from our nation’s homeless folk means that surely a new super breed of tramp has arisen, and any time now, will be the taking over. I, for one, welcome our our bearded, surprisingly sportswear-beclothed and befuddled masters.

So while we wait for the Trampocalypse, how about a little light music? Today’s New Band isn’t really a band – he’s a solo artiste – but I’m not changing the name of the website for just anybody, you know. E. K. Wimmer is a songwriter who is recording music solo after a seven year absence, which I think is a long enough time to re-classify him as ‘New’.

His songs linger in that space between simple and complex. At their barest, the songs’ sparseness is enveloping, mournful and close. Simply Call My Name starts as a lovely, intimate voice ‘n’ guitar song which then explodes unexpectedly. A burst of loud, shocking noise could, in other circumstances, have been a cheap trick, but here it actually underlines the lovely lyrical lament.

The Closer We Get is the sound of a hurt man sidling up to you and spilling his story, in a tearfully masculine way. Gentle and harsh; raw and slick; distant and cloying – E.K. Wimmer‘s songs manage to occupy both sides of the same coin.

‘Emotion’ is a dirty word in rock because of the ridiculous posturing and exaggeration of the Emo idiots (Emorons?), but here it is, laid out before you. And not a straightened asymmetrical fringe in sight, which is why you might fancy a listen to E.K. Wimmer right here.

>Today’s New Band – Mirror! Mirror!

>“Simplicity,” said Leonardo da Vinci, “is the ultimate sophistication.” This is a man who invented the helicopter 400 years before it was technically possibly to construct one, so perhaps we should pay heed.

Simplicity is what makes things like the wheel, as well as other more prosaic activities like picking your nose and eating jars of Marshmallow Fluff, so brilliant. Today’s New Band, Mirror! Mirror! are super-simple in many ways. They just want to have the proverbial Good Time, All The Time.

Song Wolfgang Bang has all these things in its favour:

  1. Wonderful, A-Grade, pun-tastic title;
  2. A great disco-tastic beat that drives the song along like a joyrider who’s just popped on his Bonkers! CD (mixed by Hixxy, natch)
  3. More Cowbell!
  4. It is lyrically WISE“On the subject of vegetables, do you get your five-a-day? Do you rubber up? Protect yourself from AIDS?” – these are lessons we could all learn from.

Don’t Mind If I Do doesn’t mind at all, and crashes out at you, before grabbing you by the ears and shaking you until you submit to Mirror! Mirror!‘s uncompromising, uncomplicated regime of Dance! Dance! Until You Submit!

Mirror! Mirror! are simple souls who use complex music and befuddled lyrics to do simple things. Mirror! Mirror!: da Vinci’s favourite band. Probably. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – The Whiffs


So again, after reeling from the glut of greatness in today’s previous post, which rounds up the best bands this month on ANBAD, we again take a delve back into our pockets to see what new great bands lurk within. (And to make that mangled mixed-metaphor-analogy work, try imagining we’re wearing big clown trousers, filled with every band in the world. I think I’m digging myself further in a hole here.) And today’s New Band is yet another nail in the Johnny Halliday-shaped coffin for people who think that French music stinks.

It’s been a bumper year for French music however you look at it – and I prefer to look mainly at Sebastian Tellier’s brilliant entry to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, a song that shouldn’t have only won, but was so universally wonderful that it should have been put into those birthday cards that play a song when they’re opened. So, yes, today’s New Band is French, and are called The Whiffs – a name which virtually guaranteed them a place on A New Band A Day the moment the words hit my retina.

The Whiffs write songs which are slight, gentle and snappy, and whilst they stick with the tried-and-tested format of guitars ‘n’ drums, there’s a lovely Gallic, non-mainstream influence seeping through the verses. Conned in Adelade is catchy, simple and the sound of two people having fun. Fun is a quality all too sadly missing in a lot of music, and choose to follow the ironic ‘FUN’ (Hi, The Tings Tings) or determinedly sullen (Hi, every band wearing purple and black stripy cut-off socks on their arms) route instead. Let’s face it, if you’re called The Whiffs, you can’t take yourself too seriously. Listen to their tunes here, and forget your troubles.

TODAY’S GLIB BAND-COMPARISON: Like if someone had stolen the early Dandy Warhol’s fuzzboxes, Valium and skinny T-Shirts and enrolled them on a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Happiness Programme.

>Today’s New Band – Emi & Sophie

>Just like clichés involving buses, waiting and bewilderment at two arriving at once – you wait for one German band for ages, and then lo and behold, another follows almost instantly. A few days ago, Like A Stuntman wowed us as our New Band of the Day, and now – look! – here’s Emi & Sophie, just as Germanic and, stereotypically, just as efficiently great. They’re a duo – a bit like Roxette, but happily without the BIG HAIR and stadium pop tunes.

In some respects, it must be head-throbbingly frustrating being in a German band. Germany has it’s own thriving musical scene, yet to the rest of the world, Kraftwerk loom large over the whole damn thing, and every band that sounds vaguely electronic is condemned to comparison.

As such, it would be a shame not to continue in that vein. It is hard not to reference Kraftwerk’s stark electronic sounds when listening to Emi & Sophie. Help Me on their MySpace page www.myspace.com/mondwasser does all the bleeping and blooping you’d expect, but in such a winningly simple home-grown way, it will leave you feeling mildly joyful. In all, the songs sound like they’ve been knocked up on a Bontempi keyboard and will always continue to be – but like that’s a bad thing. Emi & Sophie are the sound of the German Bedroom Electro Scene* and all the more likeable for it.

*A real scene, honestly, Scenesters.