Nutíd – Minimal Disquiet

Last year there was a smash the system land-grab of the once-coveted Christmas Number One slot in the UK, as the latest Cowell-protegé X-Factor moppet was beaten to their standard chart slot by a concerted effort to get Rage Against The Machine there as, like, a protest, yeah?

Inevitably, this year a similar proto-revolt is taking place, albeit with a slightly more wry bent. But in trying to get John Cage’s 4’33” to number one, what is being said? That the X-Factor isn’t art? That silence is preferable to some mawkish, cobbled-together TV spin-off song? Or is it simply ‘LOL’?

The truth probably lies somewhere amongst all those thought-puddles. The simplicity of the idea, and of  Cage’s concept, is what appeals the most. Simplicity, generally, will always succeed. This is an idea that Nutíd have wholly embraced.

Nutid //Capricorn Hill

Theirs is a sound that wavers between ultra-minimal and densely enveloping, though identifying exactly when the transition takes place is the hard part. Capricorn Hill’s half-folk, half-art swoon hits like a tiny ice-cold tsunami teasing listeners into daydreams of their making.

It turns out that Nutid is also the name of a range of kitchen appliances at Ikea that are functional, anonymous, mass market, and simple. Nutíd could only reasonably be compared to the latter. Beautiful, dizzying, and all the more disquieting because of it.

Mariee Sioux – Cultured, Not European, Brilliant

Although usually far from a model of organisation and understanding, as far as today’s new band is concerned, I managed to outdo myself this time.

Having had Mariee Sioux earmarked for some time as a truly great new artist – one who had exerted a frisson of earthy excitement from the moment her ethereal voice melted into my willing ears – I duly and carefully noted, then noted again, that she was playing at Manchester’s Eurocultured street festival on the May Bank Holiday.

So, having made such careful arrangements not to miss this brilliant talent under any circumstances whatsoever, naturally the moment I remembered about her appearance was in a vaguely coherent forehead-slapping moment at two in the morning of the following day.

Ignoring the fact that being an American singer is a minor and confusing inconvenience when appearing on the bill of an all-European showcase festival, missing Mariee Sioux has been a genuinely painful experience, as this woman has a voice of wild heather honey and songs streamed straight from the subconscious of a minor deity.

Mariee Sioux // Loveskulls

A song that feels like a deep, strong, unyielding hug of love, with a power zapped straight from the Earth’s life force itself, Loveskulls must be heard so that you too can be dragged, trance-like, into a blissful state by its green, lush charm.

Loveskulls is so light, it may be fuelled by warm summer winds alone; so wholesome and rich that packs of wild animals may well have been raised on the song’s milky beauty; a salve for the soul.

Who is Mariee Sioux? Where did she come from? How did these beautiful songs get here? Thanks partly to my wholehearted idiocy, we may never know. And yet such questions are unimportant when a voice so stubbornly otherworldly, and yet wholly of this planet, sweeps you up and wafts you away. A genuine treat.

Tom Williams and The Boat; Faint Praise and HOT TIPS

Caveats, caveats.

Tips from readers are always more than welcome, especially when they are accompanied by such semi-praise as, ‘I think one of his songs is great, but I’m not sure. And the rest – well, I’m not sure about those either.’

Thanks, anonymous reader. Nail those colours to the mast, why don’t you?

Well, with recommendations like that, what more encouragement to listen is needed? Tom Williams and The Boat were the lucky recipients of such unbridled encouragement, though I imagine they won’t be hurt by such undistinguished praise. I’ll get to that later.

Tom Williams and the Boat // Concentrate

This is a song that doesn’t just hit the ground running, it’s rushing off in a lung-bursting, sinew-stretching sprint while the rest are still tying their shoelaces.

Concentrate is the sound of a band who are either ultra-confident, or ultra-desperate to escape the drudge of normal life. If the lyrics are anything to go by, I suspect the latter.

The song is the defiant sound of an alienated soul looking into the mirror after one too many knocks and scraping up the will to continue. The moral is: concentrate hard on self-belief, because it may not come from anywhere, or anyone, else. Ooh, serious. Great stuff.

Broken Deer, Bypassing Rationale and Zipping Straight To Your Middle Of Nowhere

We all have our curious nooks, fascination with niches, our inexplicable preferences and the feeling of being unfathomably drawn to subject X over subject Y.

So I’ll come right out and admit it, using a truly tortuous metaphor: if Broken Deer was a magnet, I’d be the spilt iron filings bristling all over it, irremovable, fascinated and twitching.

Broken Deer‘s music bypasses both the rational lobe of the brain and the musical one, and connects directly with the bit that makes me recoil with satisfaction, pleasure and a beguiling, bizarre sense of comfort.

Broken Deer // White Woman

Found sounds pulled from dusty locked drawers, voices from the misty ether, warm radio crackle from the other side of the world. Broken Deer channels all those feelings of wide-eyed intrigue into a tangible reality, and then smashes them back into a thousand little fragments.

Broken Deer is actually a person called Lindsay Dobbin. But forget that name. Disassociate the sounds with humanity, and you’ll begin to wonder if you’ve tapped into the tentative recordings of an alien who has has learnt about music via radio waves from Earth’s past which are only just arriving in their present.

Deft, careful, delicate, delicious: Broken Deer.

>Today’s New Band – Turquoise Cats

Sometimes there are bands on ANBAD that trample all over convention: ideas like song structure, composition and ooh, I don’t know, sound itself. In truth, these bands are my favourites, regardless of whether the results of their innovation are actually pleasant to listen to or not. It’s the daring and disregard for conventional wisdom that’s the thrill more than the listening experience itself.

For this divisive reason, I try to keep these bands to a minimum, in an attempt to avoid driving readers away in droves, but I allow myself the occasional moment of self-indulgence when it’s clear that a band is thoroughly loopy but still producing good music.

Thus: Today’s New Band, Turquoise Cats, defiantly odd producers of peculiar music. And a sense of humour too, if song titles like OMGLOLWTFBBQ are anything to go by. OMGLOLWTFBBQ trembles terrifically; then rises, menacing and angry, throbbing and flailing.

The Beastie Boys said that Hello Nasty was influenced by, amongst other things, Boggle, and maybe a similarly dice-based family game determined the outcome of Turquoise CatsYahtzee, a song that bubbles and burbles. Crazed clapping, musical boxes and demented clicking all find a home here, and whtfltpttrns/mgphrrstrs is, frankly, an exercise in summoning up eerie sounds, which force your skin to crawl confusedly.

Reviewing bands like Turquoise Cats isn’t easy because there’s so little that actually makes sense to go on. What this does mean though, is that the listener isn’t allowed any connection with the music other than those allowed by the music makers, and the devolution of power is a nice feeling. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Kong


While in France a bit ago, I watched the Tour de France – except for the first time, it was in real life, as opposed to catching a glance of it whilst flicking through the obscure channels on satellite TV. Having found I was camping five minutes from the exact point of le Tour that is a cycling enthusiast’s wet dream, Mont Ventoux, and on the strength of many breathless descriptions of how INCREDIBLY AMAZING the experience would be, I dragged myself along.

Well, it was a fabulous experience after all. It was a bit like a theme park – maybe Middle Aged Obscure Sports Enthusiast World or something – where you could imagine what it was like to live a dull, mainly meaningless existence where waiting five hours – five hours, mind – for the infinitesimally short moment where a bunch of sweaty, grim-faced men whistle past at light speed, and then rushing for the car to beat the traffic, constitutes a Good Time.
I was grumpy. It was hot as hell, there was five hours of vainly applauding passing police cars for entertainment, and I spent most of the time desperately trying to remember the melody of Kraftwerk’s Tour de France, which was, and now, still is, the only interesting thing about the world’s premiere cycling event.
Not enough bands name songs after sporting events – in fact, if we necessarily exclude any World Cup tie-in songs that limp around every four years, there are none at all. Perhaps Today’s New Band can redress this balance. They’re Kong, a band I intended to write about when I lived in Manchester, before I jacked everything in to travel on a pittance around the continent.
Kong are these things:
Noisy to the point of awkwardness
Obtuse to the point of weirdness
Lovable in an entirely keep-at-arm’s-distance way
Musically creative in the way most bands aren’t, and wouldn’t dare to be
And these four reasons are enough to love them, or at least to devote plenty of time to their bewilderingly deformed rock. Their songs – take Leather Penny Snippet, or Sport, please – are the equivalent of a door repeatedly slamming in your face, such is the total absence of care about what you think coupled with the exhilarating fuck-you-ness of youthful noise-making.

>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 – Semya

>If you’re like me (and if you are, please accept my immediate condolences), at any one given time, you’ll cite one particular band as the Nadir of Rock Crappiness. The band will change – at the moment mine is Scouting For Girls, but The Kooks, Kula Shaker and Ocean Colour Scene have all sprung quickly to mind when searching for an example of awful music.

In the past, Shed Seven also fulfilled the wispy criteria for inclusion. Their name was clunky, their songs were mindless and/or overwrought and/or lightweight, they were from York, and they were unfathomably popular, in the UK at least.

Last night a friend took umbrage at this opinion. “They’re great live!” he panted. “They wrote some classic tunes!” he bridled.

He put on their dreadfully-named album A Maximum High, and… oh, crap. He was half-right. Some of the songs were OK. Some were enjoyable. Some made me long for lager, Ben Sherman shirts and Oasis albums playing in the pub.

So my judgement was wrong. Bah. But do trust me when I say that Today’s New Band, Semya, are an insidious, blinding flash of sonic creativity and focus.

Drumsandlilypads floats on its own warmth; light and airy, multi-faceted and complex. The sounds peak and fall, recycling and crumbling into themselves over and over. Tectonics shifts noisily, disturbing all around it, chewing up tasty sounds and leaving behind the remains in the fashion it sees fit.

Earth Ghost, the musical equivalent of finding a shadowy anomaly in a photograph of a loved one, is compiled from a scattering of sounds that oughtn’t make sense together. This song is the spot where they all overlap and work, like a sonic Venn diagram.

Lessons learnt: apologies to Shed Seven, and congratulations to Semya, whose music is organically un-structured almost to the point of tactility. Super. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Nevada Base

>My girlfriend has a new mobile phone. Now, every morning, its alarm sounds with the Log Song from Ren And Stimpy. The effect that this has is to introduce mild lunacy into your life every morning at 7 am, and there it stays, pinging ludicrously around your mind all day. Try it. You’ll go crazy, you iiiiiiiiidiooot.

So once again, today’s task has been to find a way of sluicing out unwanted noise in my head. Usual tactics failed and so Today’s New Band have more responsibility than usual.

Thankfully, Nevada Base are the required distraction. Actually, that undersells them mightily – they’re a slippery electro-eel. You’ll see.

Therapy keeps the shimmer of electro, but loses the aloofness; building into pummeling psycho-dance. When it mutates into semi-Talking Heads riff-ology at the end, you can’t help but smile. Stitches creeps with feline menace, the sound of sonic decomposition.

Nevada Base are lithe and venomous; smooth but barbed. Their songs creep and crawl to places that you, and I imagine, they, weren’t sure of. Can your skin crawl while you dance? Find out here.

>Today’s New Band – Dragon Bazooka

>Sit cross-legged. Breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Let any extraneous noise, thought or feelings fall away. The world is a tropical beach, and you are slowly sinking into its golden sand. Ommmmmmmmm.

Today’s New Band is Dragon Bazooka. The name promises PAIN, DESTRUCTION and NOISE, but the band delivers serenity, vast expanses of calm and sunny, syrupy sweetness.

Semya & The Mighty Dance Of The Gunberry is massive-sounding: dense and overwhelming like a ton of pillows suddenly falling on your head. When you realise halfway through the song that your mind is nearly full up with sounds and ideas, you might then remember with quasi-horror that the song initially limped out of the blocks with a simple marimba roll, promising nothing.

Architecture In My Pinky, simple as it is jaunty, vibrates and oscillates like an emergency siren; not with menace, though, but with alert, cheerful eagerness.

When the Apocalypse comes, I’d like to think that the first signs of terror zipping over the horizon would be dragons armed with some sort of world-ending dark-matter-type bazooka. At least it’d be a surprising way to go. Dragon Bazooka‘s music is surprising too, and is the softly appropriate soundtrack to IMPENDING DOOM. Listen here!