>Today’s New Band – The Phantom Band

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***Quasi-Disclaimer: here’s a review I wrote a few months ago, and thought had been accidentally deleted. Turns out it wasn’t. So maybe you’ve already heard of them by now. But it’s not worth taking the risk in case you haven’t, so here it is anyway***

It’s probably just my endlessly facile mind, but the title of the first song I played by Today’s New Band made me snigger like a schoolboy who’s just entertained his classmates with a particularly resonant fart.

I don’t know whether I Like My Hole was intended as a double entedre – the dourly atmospheric gloom contained within would suggest a unequivocal ‘not’ – but I’m not ashamed by any conclusions drawn from such childishness. The ends rarely justify the means – but in this instance, if I hadn’t have raised a Terry-Thomas-esque eyebrow at this song’s moniker, I may never have listened to The Phantom Band.

They’re from Glasgow, and signed to the continually brilliant Chemikal Underground label, two attributes which would usually justify attention ahead of anything that rung my bell. Hey, whatever works for you. They make crafty, multi-faceted songs like Folk Song Oblivion, which, while we’re dwelling on the subject song titles, is a pleasant suggestion in itself.

Folk Song Oblivion is a lovely curio – lovely both in spirit and sound. It’s a song that vibrates with drive, brotherhood and the echos of a dozen great rock songs before it. And then The Howling is a strange half-cousin of a song – a clever rock rustle, coupled with the build-and-release sensibility of dance music, but with the sound of neither.

So, today, we have learnt the power of a name. The Phantom Band are then maybe what you’d expect – a ghostly version of a rock band that could have been average, but have excelled through their otherworldiness. Forlorn, hearty and welcome. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Donny Hue And The Colors

>I’ve been agonising over the thought process behind my recent choice of The Counterpoint as a new band of the day. What was I thinking? Are they a poor joke band, or a supremely care-free example of a band having fun whilst playing the odd good tune? Sometimes, I concluded, the reasoning just doesn’t matter. It’s the route you take, maaan, not the destination.

So the shambling arrival stage left is Donny Hue and The Colors, Today’s New Band. Their music is all about walking the road less worn and seening how it feels. Good Time Happening finds a tip-toe path between ‘coyly sweet love song’ and ‘oh get a grip, man’, and emerges with a gentle, whimsical love story. It’s a quirky, lonely tale of trapped feelings for a person, a place, or a feeling – a feeling that we’ve all been prisoner to at some time. Here’s a lovely song to accompany exactly that.

The Continuously Lost Tales Of Berepidy Tom is just what you’d expect – a rambling shaggy dog story, with outlandish claims of exploration and love. Wild claims are spun from silly half-truths and piled up, gossamer-woven, like candy floss. It’s a similarly sweet treat.

Wait – Donny Hue‘s band is called The Colors. I just got that. Extra points awarded to them for my mouth-breathing stupidity. Sudden insight from slowly-moving brain-cogs aside, Donny Hue and The Colors are a simple and kind pinprick in our complicated, unfriendly times, and as such deserve a place in your life. Listen here, and sugar-sigh with relaxed relief.

>Today’s New Band – Dirt Dress

>So we’re all going to die from Swine Flu. I recommend PANICKING, HYSTERIA (not the Def Leppard album) and STOCKPILING FOOD, as well as voracious consumption of newspaper reports to confirm these actions as correct.

When you’re hermetically sealed into your Pig Flu-Proof Isolation Den, choose between cowering in a corner, rocking back and forth and listening to Today’s New Band, Dirt Dress. The latter is encouraged.

An Introduction fulfils the Sacred Rock Criteria: it’s under three minutes long, snaps into a chorus you want to hear again and again, and has a louche, detached, attitude. It’s a rock song from the future sung by a band in the 50’s. Go To Sleep, tinny, rambling and on the edge of coherency, grabs you like a swaying drunk and wanders off in a similar vein.

So many bands flag The Pixies as an influence, but few interpret the QUIETloudQUIET template successfully. Dirt Dress understand; the weirdness, the off-kilter guitar, the willing disassociation with normality. Good stuff. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Yucatan

>Here’s food for thought. (By the way, that sentence will now reveal itself to be pun-tabulous.) So: the world record for eating cow brains is held by Takeru Kobayashi, who ate 57 – nearly 18lbs – in 15 minutes. Oleg Zhornitskiy ate 8lbs of mayonnaise in eight minutes. Don Lerman ate 7 quarter-pound sticks of salted butter in five minutes. There are other, equally heroic, food-shovelling records to be seen here.

Two thoughts immediately spring to mind. Firstly, that their mothers must be so proud. And secondly, I wonder if there is a point – say, after the fifth pound of mayo – where the sheer awfulness of spooning white fatty gloop into your mouth abates, and a strange zen-like bliss overcomes the participant, making every further spoon/cup/bowl-ful a serotonin-fuelled trip to the brain’s pleasure centre.

I assume this is what compels people to keep listening to U2 albums. The thought that doing so was to glimpse bland, ego-fuelled, MOR rock hell disappears, and been replaced by genuine desire to subject themselves to it.

Listening to Today’s New Band, Yucatan, will never be a trial or test. Songs like Un Cyfle are fine-spun cobwebs of gentle sound. Yucatan sing in Welsh, a language that has been long suited to dreamy, lilting melodies. No, most listeners won’t understand it, but that’s missing the point – regardless of your language, you’ll get lost in the soothing swoop of the songs and lyrics.

A Oes Ymateb builds from sparseness and reaches twinkling, shimmering heights. Dau is the beautiful music played at a dead miner’s wake. If Yucatan‘s songs were played at a Competitive Eating contest, all the participants would stop, mid-guzzle, to reflect on life, the universe, and their absurd role in it all. Then they’d carry on, because those hot dogs aren’t going to eat themselves. Listen to Yucatan here!

>Today’s New Band – Worried About Satan

>How about that Devil, eh? You know, the cheeky fella – crimson skin, goat horns, nefariously securing your soul for everlasting agony his sulphuric inferno. He just loves Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Goddammit (geddit?!???!!) if Rock ‘n’ Roll doesn’t just go all dewy-eyed in return.

The devil’s long association with popular music is now more of a gently amusing cliché perpetuated by religio-crazies than an affliction considered to be corrupting our mindless youth.

So it’s fairly safe to assume that Today’s New Band, Worried About Satan, chose their moniker out of impishness, rather than a fascination with the occult. OR WAS IT?*

If songs like You’re In My Thoughts are hooking up a direct line to His Satanic Majesty, their preoccupied and dream-like approach to song-making make it an alluring and calming notion. OR IS THAT WHAT THEY WANT YOU TO THINK?*

Worried About Satan make slight, elusive ambient songs. Evil Dogs creeps, echoing, leeching sound from around it, and eventually spitting out a slowly vital, quiet throb. Noise 01 Reprise chimes like overlapping recordings of a recently used glass harmonica, organic bubbling and wind whistling over bottle tops.

It’s been a stressful week here at ANBAD Towers, and Worried About Satan make it all A-OK, tranquil and calm. AND THEN BEELZEBUB WILL SWOOP WHEN YOU LEAST EXPECT IT!* Listen here.

*these bits were to keep the crazies happy, natch.

>Today’s New Band – Vic Mars!

>There’s probably a point, in minimalist music, where the line between ‘minimal’ and ‘mainly silence with very occasional noise’ gets blurred, bent and fiddled with. At it’s finest, this type of music brings light to your soul and aerates your mind, if that isn’t too flowery a description (it is); at worst, its open-ended nature allows for pretentiousness of the very highest caliber. John Cale has a lot to answer for.

Still, the idea of putting very little noise into a song in an age when bands are dumbly making their songs literally as LOUD as is possible, is both refreshing and an example of going against the grain – both virtues that ANBAD loves to bits.

So welcome Today’s New Band, Vic Mars, apparently from Nagoya, and apparently from the school of less=more, which pleases me no end. Vic’s songs are a little blips of sound, from a few seconds long to just a couple of minutes, glimpses of other-worldly calmness.

Tristwch is vinyl fuzz with near-discernible sounds growing organically from it. The Fountain, lush and orchestral, is still soft and absent enough to hold your thoughts. Clouds In Your Sunglasses takes a simple, sweet sound and runs with it, over and over; as smooth and slights as In is burbling and fractured.

What is great about Vic Mars‘ music is that it lets you into the mindset of the musician in a way that say, Shake It by moron-o-pop band Metro Station doesn’t. Delicious. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – We All Inherit The Moon

>How big a role does luck have in the formation of bands? Imagine you’re a guitarist who wants to make liltingly uncommon, unstructured non-regimented music. What are the chances of finding the the three or so band members who think like you, and aren’t determined to clank out the same old Killers/Kooks/Los Campesinos-lite that most fledgling bands prefer?

I’m no statistician, but you’d have to leave a lot of idiosyncratic adverts in a lot of guitar shops before you found the like-minded souls you needed.

This trawl for understanding band members may well have played a part in the nascent life of Today’s New Band, We All Inherit The Moon. The idea of a long, careful search to find exactly the right person for each role would ring true, mirrored in the carefully constructed, close and delicate songs.

Equally, a slow, organic musical growth spurt – the band forming slowly over time, like tinklingly melodic stalagmites – is suggested in their creeping, wandering sound. However it happened, in songs like Part I, We All Inherit The Moon craft weaving, homeless songs that filter slowly into your brain, and then, just as you realise how comforting its presence is, dissolve into nothing again. Part III is icy but pulsing with warmth. You’ll wait for Part IV to really get going, and then find yourself glad that it never did.

Zen, calm, relaxo-therapy – call it what you want. We All Inherit The Moon‘s music is balm for your mind, soothing like a big hug. Like vines crawling over an old building, their songs will slowly grab you, and you won’t want to be freed. Yum. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Ghetto Mullet – PLUS! Morris Dancing and Charlatans

>There was a girl who I met at art college. Her name was Laura, and she managed to be both swaggeringly masculine (her haircut, her demeanour, her clothes) and sweetly feminine (big coy brown eyes, cute cheekbones and pink lips) all at once. One of the things that I remember the most is that she told me that her favourite band of all time – of all time – was The Charlatans.

The Charlatans are a strange lot. They’re one of those bands that nearly attained greatness, but never quite got there. From their baggy roots, through their middle (and best) stage as 60’s-ish rockers, to the soul-y rock that they make now, they’ve always nearly been the best, but not quite. I can’t imagine anyone ever placing them as their favourite band, and yet I knew someone who told me that they were.

This just goes to demonstrate again that taste is subjective, and is one of the main reasons I love writing about new bands. I genuinely hope that not all of bands on ANBAD are liked by you ANBAD readers, but I do hope that the ones that you do like make a real connection.

So with that in mind, maybe you’ll like Today’s New Band, Ghetto Mullet, and maybe you won’t. But we hope you’ll listen to them all the same, so that you can find out.

When they’re not conjuring up images of business-at-the-front-party-at-the-back hairdos, Ghetto Mullet make similarly business-at-the-front-party-at-the-back instrumental hip-hop. It’s a sound that you’ll know almost straight away whether you ‘get’ it or not – you could either find it to be the kind of music that is perfect for a certain mood, or you could find that no mood you ever have will fit. Who knows.

Ghetto Mullet are great music to listen to as you concentrate on something else. That is meant as a compliment. To my ears, Rampant Thought is complicatedly twitchy and involving, yet nicely disassociated from the need for direct, concentrated thought. Arriving in Obscurity exists in a fug of scratches, radio fuzz and tape hiss, and similarly Feel It, probably Ghetto Mullet‘s most arresting song, thunders along with samples of radio bleeps, and what might be the sound of someone thumping a dustbin.

Today’s Lesson: Just ‘cos you don’t like the sound of it doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t love it. A bit like Morris Dancing, only less humiliating, and with fewer bells, sticks and hankies. Ghetto Mullet: possible Morris Dancers for the 21st Century! Listen here!

>Christmas Day, Deep Sleep and Today’s New Band – Kaisonia

>I slept really well last night. REALLY well. One of those deep sleeps where it feels like your body is slowly sinking, forever, into a pile of goose feathers and dreams are about marshmallows, bunny rabbits and cotton wool. Hence I woke feeling as relaxed as George Michael behind the wheel of his Range Rover.

I don’t know if my mind just took pity on me, or the deep slumber meant that it wasn’t awake quick enough to being inflicting annoyance on me again, but instead of having the usual dreadful novelty pop hit stuck on repeat in my brain, I awoke with Saint Etienne’s I Was Born On Christmas Day lodged defiantly between my ears.

This kind of good fortune only happens once in a while, so I greedily capitalised on it by watching the video over and over again on Youtube, just to cement it in place. It’s a lovely song, without irony or pretence, and is coyly romantic and twee, without plunging into cloyingness. Tim Burgess from The Charlatans is in it too, which just about knocks it into ‘perfect pop song’ territory.

Today’s New Band is a bit of a stark contrast to St. Etienne. Kaisonia, not to be confused with ANBAD alumni Kaiton, makes spacey, drifting music that, as a quick glance at their Myspace page might infer, is particularly intergalactic. If I was being glib (and I am) I’d say that Kaisonia is a bit like the Orb, but more… now.

In fact, if you are stuck in a slight sugar-rush pop buzz at the moment and need to shift your attention before you listen to the same song 15 times in a row (see footnote), Kaisonia might be your first port of call. Their music might well be the audio equivalent of a hot bath and a foot massage.

It’s difficult, and possibly pointless, when reviewing bands like this (see also: Boards of Canada and their ilk), to isolate individual track and comment on them. This sort of lilting, ethereal music doesn’t fit into, and isn’t restrained by, a traditional short-song format. It’s more satisfying to take the string of songs as a whole, and judge the experience as you go along. In this context, Kaisonia are fabulously weird, dream-like and rigidly loose, if you see what I mean.

You’d be daft (and infinitely less ‘chilled, maaaan’) if you didn’t dip your toe into Kaisonia‘s pool. So do so, here. Oh, and judging by their website, that pool might be a molten sulphur lake on Venus. Just so you know.

N.B. Prior to the writing of this post, Joe listened to I Was Born On Christmas Day 15 times in a row. Yikes.

>Today’s New Band – That’s The Spirit

>The brain consumes 20% of the oxygen a human breathes. At least that’s what Wikipedia says, so you may as well invent your own fact and the chances of it being true are about the same. Anyway – the point is that brains are bewilderingly impressive, and do remarkable things. Issac Newton’s brain, for example, spewed out the three laws of motion and the theory of Universal Gravitation while he was dozing under a tree. Or something.

Meanwhile, us mere mortals, incapable of generating ideas that shape entire societies for hundreds of years, are left with all that brain power punching and flailing in a million different directions at once, only occasionally revealing hitherto unknown abilities. Unfortunately, my special brain-skill appears to be playing crap songs on loop in my head for hours on end. The nadir of this anti-Zen skill consisted of a whole weekend wandering around Barcelona humming, out loud, the chorus from Eddie Murphy and Rick James‘ half-hellish, half-genius 80’s hit ‘My Girl Wants to Party All The Time’, confirming locals’ suspicions that all tourists are idiots.

While I was in France recently, this idiotic superpower kicked in again, but this time – bliss! – it finally picked a good song, Little Patton by ex-New Band of The Day, The Seedy Seeds, and I spent a whole two weeks happily whistling to myself. Perhaps my relentless pursuit of new bands is specifically so that I can push all the crappy old songs out of my head with good new ones. If so, then Today’s New Band is another step in the right direction.

They’re That’s The Spirit, they’re from Canada, and they write songs that are gentle, melodic, mind-massages. Moreover, the songs are fitting for the time of year – when summer is drifting lazily into autumn, and a feeling of mild hopelessness prevails. Always Coming Back is chiming, bright and understated, and Every City has a strange yearning feeling written large; its clanging guitar sounds the pen, and your woozy mind the A4 sheet of notepaper.

That’s The Spirit‘s songs are the ones you’d want to listen to on a drizzly day, as you doze cozily inside, watching the outside world disappear in grey watery nothingness. Listen to their songs here, and drift slowly into a womb-like comfortable slumber.