>Today’s New Band – The Voluntary Butler Scheme

If gentle and quaint are crimes, then Today’s New Band, The Voluntary Butler Scheme, are such career criminals they may as well be wearing stripey jumpers and carrying bags marked ‘Swag’. These traits are not the wishy-washy characteristics they might always seem. In the right hands, they become the perfect tools to squeeze the most basic and endearing feelings out of their audience.

The Voluntary Butler Scheme, then, are dexterous in the extreme. Crazed and cute love couplets, plus persistent handclaps, and a cheap ‘n’ cheerful guitar chunter appear in one song: Trading Things In is a song to warm your cockles and leave you charmed by the smallest things in life. Lyrics like”If you were broccoli I’d turn vegetarian for you” and “If you bought running shoes, as out of breath as I’d get, I’d buy running shoes too,” don’t grow on trees, you know.

Tabasco Sole, driven by a guitar jangle that hints at and out-shimmers ABC by the Jackson Five, skips and bounces with delight: a kitchen sink love song that’s so desperate to embrace the world that the sounds themselves spring out of the speakers and have a damn good go.

It’s further proof that The Voluntary Butler Scheme are incapable of writing songs other than breathless exhortations of the world itself. Fasten your belts tightly – they’ll charm your pants right off. Listen here!

photo by Mark Sherratt

>Today’s New Band – Liechtenstein

>It says much for the depths of resolve in the human psyche that, even when presented with an entirely stressful situation – like, say, moving house – it’s approached with delightfully optimistic naivety. “Surely this time, it’ll all be one, smooth, graceful procedure,” you muse, gingerly lifting the first of many boxes.

So, by the end of the process, how did I end up exhausted, aching, soaked through with rain, and sitting in a strange pub with a shellshocked look on my face? Having blanked out the preceding 48 traumatic hours, even I can’t answer that question. Sat in the pub, finally facing the light at the end of the tunnel, the Pub Jukebox God found time to play one final sick joke.

As the white stress-noise in my ears abated, it was gradually replaced by one that actually made my laugh at the sheer cruelty of it all. That noise was Katie Melua‘s cover of What A Wonderful World, a version so will-sappingly horrible that all who hear it must surely respond with the question, “But is it really?”

Today’s New Band actually is wonderful, and charming, and gutsy to boot. They’re Liechtenstein, and are probably already more exciting than their namesake country.

While Roses In The Park owes a little to Jesus and Mary Chain, it’s no generic copy – instead it uses the sparseness of the production to hoist the very lovable vocals high and to the fore. As a result, a throwaway chorus becomes a fine, sweet harmony to sit alongside the guitar’s rumbling chime. Apathy summons up enough interest to craft a gentle, lilting song; tranquilised, calm and detached. Stalking Skills sashays with the slink and guile that only women really posses.

Liechtenstein are strangely timeless, winningly female, pleasingly self-believing and have the coolly disconnected nature you’d hope for in a bunch of talented, attractive women. Great – listen 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!

>Today’s New Band – Radio Spectacular PLUS! FEAR! (The)


Do you know who’s at number one in the (UK) single charts today? I used to listen to the Top 40 countdown on Radio 1 religiously when I was a callow youth, but who really cares now? To answer the first question – it’s Lily Allen, with her ominously-titled song The Fear.
The song itself is, you know, OK; it’s quite difficult to dislike Lily Allen, and The Fear’s lush, semi-serious pop won’t change that. Anyway, the song further fuels my theory that all British recording artists, after going through the ‘making it big, partying a bit too hard’ phase, suddenly get all introspective and release a song called The Fear.
Pulp, Travis and Ian Brown are all guilty of this, with varying results. Pulp’s stab at it was an atypically glum, downbeat, overly dramatic druggy song from Jarvis’ ill-fated cocaine days; Ian Brown‘s was pretty much the same thing; and Travis‘ doesn’t really bear thinking about.
I can see why writing a song called The Fear is so tempting, conjuring as it does images of Vietnam vets thousand-yard-staring into the distance, sniffing bravely. Pop stars are narcissistic enough to draw parallels between their own boozy miseries and soldiers with post-traumatic stress.
Today’s New Band, Radio Spectacular, wouldn’t write a song about The Fear. They’re not self-absorbed enough, and besides, are too busy writing songs with names like Nina And The Sonic Rainbow to worry about cocaine psychosis.
Writing songs as softly LOUD and exciting as Good To Me probably negates the need for soul-searching. Pounding, detached and yet still enough of a love song to give teenagers enough of an excuse to both kiss and grope on dancefloors, it’ll scrub your brain clean of lethargy, leaving you alert and alive.
You Light Me Up clicks and clacks, finding itself in the spaces in between the sounds. It’s fun enough to make a chorus of “la-a-a-a-a eh-eh-oh” work perfectly. Ghosts and Ghouls isn’t as fiendishly frustrating as the early 90’s video game of almost the same name, but is just as addictive. It’s bouncy, clattering pop with throwaway lyrics like “He thinks he’s really fit, he thinks he’s the shit, the girls are lining up for him,” all over the most insistent rolling piano riff you’ve heard for ages.
Radio Spectacular are from Adelaide, and so may not be touring in my hemisphere any time soon, but my loss is Oceania‘s gain. Based on pure guesswork – which for ANBAD is almost comparable to scientific proof – I’m willing to gamble that their gigs are a riot of pop colour, fun and (hopefully) the aforementioned teenage necking. Get a lovebite with them here!

>Today’s New Band – The Ribbon PLUS! Change! Good! Change! Bad!

>Change. Mmmm, threatening the status quo. Except the change that took place in the USA yesterday is almost universally seen as A Good Thing. Actually, if the band Status Quo had been threatened, my opinion on Obama would have worsened considerably. Listen, Barack, put the economy right, chit-chat with Iran and save the ozone layer all you like, but don’t mess around with Britain’s greatest two-chord, crank-em-out, denim-clad, pub-rock merchants.

Wait, i got sidetracked there a bit. But the point about change being good yesterday still stands (and so does the one about Francis Rossi et al). Usually, people get a bit edgy when it’s mentioned. Just look what happened when Kiss took off their make-up. Their most knuckle-dragging fans got all uppity, as if the face paint shtick wasn’t, you know, getting a bit old by then.

So change in rock ‘n’ roll is bad – except of course it isn’t. After all, who wouldn’t rejoice if Oasis decided to try something new for once, rather than twist the dial on the Noel-O-Tronic computer (which I suspect replaced the real thing ages ago) to the “Generic sing-along melodic rock” setting?

You get the feeling that Today’s New Band, The Ribbon, won’t ever get stuck in a rut. Their brilliant ephemeral songs are too light, too deft and too pure to ever get dull. Sometimes you can catch glimpses of the home-spun qualities of The Knife in The Ribbon, which is as good a start as you could hope for really.

Songs like Clikclikclik start small, a cluster of clicky loops, and then build and build until a whole song has appeared piece by tiny, twitching piece. Angels Elders Animals hovers so lightly and temptingly in your ears that it leaves you flustered. Attaching tiny bells to a hummingbird’s wings might replicate the sound.

Displaying a delicacy, sureness and sense of fragile grandeur that a hundred two-bit ‘electronic’ bands would kill for, The Ribbon are several agile, artful and well-placed steps ahead so many others, it’s silly.

They’re also the second wildly inventive band this week, after Monday’s Here We Go Magic. As such, they are recommended so wholeheartedly that we at ANBAD feel appropriately smug. Escape to The Ribbon‘s music quick, before we get depressingly obstreperous*!

*Thank you, Thesaurus.com

>Mammoth Life – Today’s New Band

>I have a friend who runs a sweetshop, called Kandy Pop, in Manchester. She spends all day selling all the best sweets from your childhood – Dolly Mixtures, Fried Eggs, Flying Saucers – that kind of thing. It’s the cutest, most sugary place on the planet, and to compound the outright sweetness of the experience, she plays cute punky music all day long. If you manage to leave the shop without looking or feeling like you’ve been dunked in sucrose, then you, sir, are a stronger man than I.

So then – what about cuteness in music: as yummy and sweet as the pinkest, softest frosting on the world’s sugariest cupcake, or as cloying and syrupy as the pinkest, softest frosting frosting on the sugariest cupcake? Today’s New Band will polarise your opinion, because, frankly, they are as cute as a box full of buttons.

Mammoth Life are from Kansas in the USA. Their music isn’t cute in a Japanese J-Pop way, or in a Bis way, but in a wholesome, twinkling, harmonising way that’s a bit of a delight. Their song To Suffer For Passion is terminally bright and happy, the vocals droning and intertwining around what sounds a bit like what would happen if mandolins and violins were birds courting in mating season. It’s quite close to being a twee-er Shiny Happy People, with a driving twang, a snappy hook and a melody that bounces around like a child on a spacehopper.

Bicycle Rider is even more fun – honking horns and ringing bells, buzzing and flitting from here to there, enjoying the feeling of luxuriating in happiness. Mammoth Life aren’t just sugar-fiends on a mission to uplift though – there’s a hint of melancholy if you listen hard enough, but why would you want to do that? Just grab a toffee apple and remember how much fun it was to just have fun. Listen to their great songs here!