>Today’s New Band – It’s A Dragon PLUS! Christmas Panic!

>What’s happening to A New Band A Day? New features and new writers? It’s almost as if more effort’s being put in all of a sudden or something. Well, a pre-Christmas frenzy has overcome us all in ANBAD Towers, that’s what. In an effort to forget that we haven’t bought a single Christmas present yet, at all, and-oh-crap-it’s-only-two-weeks-til-Christmas, we’re listening to more ace new bands than ever before. Not that that will be an acceptable excuse to our nearest and dearest on the 25th.

So before we start having spasms of anxiety, let’s cut to the chase: Today’s New Band are the jangly guitar pop-slingers It’s A Dragon, and, with an inevitability that is becoming almost terrifying, they’re from Sweden. I’m no scientist, but at a rough guess I’d say approximately 97% of the world’s jangly pop is made in Sweden at the moment. If Jangly Pop was worth as much as oil, it’d be Swedish record exec bosses instead of Sheiks that would be splashing obscene sums on Premiership football clubs.

It’s A Dragon, or Mats as he’s know to his mother, has rustled up a bunch of sunny love songs that hit the ground running and scamper towards the setting sun, possibly shedding clothes with excitement on the way. Onwards and Upwards is so stupendously upbeat, with insistent horns and twanging guitars, that tapping your feet or drumming pens against your keyboard is practically a formality.

Everything Reminds Me Of You, like all of his songs, is characterised by its simplicity. It’s about a girl, love and rejection, like most pop love-songs; musically, he doesn’t try to squeeze in anything that doesn’t need to be there. This streamlining just makes it easier for the song to weedle its way into your brain, via your heart, and stay there.

It’s a Dragon‘s songs are without hype, faux-emotional depth or forced cool. Just simple, sweet songs; good, pure fun. They’re from a man who knows his way around a tune and can craft them effortlessly. Why is that? ANECDOTE ALERT

On his Myspace page, Mats says, “When I was 12 I nicked a tape from a friends big sister. On the A-side was the Smiths‘ “Strangeways Here We Come” and on the B-side, The Cure‘s “Head On The Door”.” That’s a fortuitous start to your musical life. He’s now creating beautiful pop songs.

My first tape, when I was 5, was Eliminator by ZZ Top. I now have a 3-foot long beard. Go figure. But first, listen to It’s a Dragon, right here!

>Today’s New band – Fredrik PLUS! Daniel O’Donnell!

>Sometimes it’s just… difficult to buy albums. Often it’s because there are no decent records being released. December is when the annual CD drought kicks in, due to the proliferation of dreadful CDs aimed at the Christmas market. Yet another oxymoronic Katie Melua ‘Best Of’, anyone? Or Daniel O’Donnell‘s Christmas Album? Yes, I’d prefer to drink Gluwein flavoured with bleach too.

Most times though, it’s just the feeling of not knowing where to start. All those CDs, and so little desire to spend fifteen precious minutes being lectured to by the bearded guy behind the counter about the latest release from their favourite unknown Jazz-Funk combo. My favoured fallback option is to plump for a compilation album – the best friend of the unsure or skint. For the same price as a standard album, you get a whole bundle of songs picked by someone else. It’s a bit like borrowing a friend’s iPod and setting it to shuffle.

The great thing with compilation albums is that they work as intended for everyone involved – the listener gets a taste of a load of new bands; the artists, often without the money, or variety of songs to warrant their own album, get published; and the record execs get to cream off another 10% to spend on coke, champagne and hookers. With this all in mind, I can wholeheartedly recommend any of the brilliant compilation CDs from Rough Trade, or the equally ace Studio One series.

Today’s New Band, Fredrik, are probably on a compilation album somewhere. For good reason, too – they’re the second delicious folky band we’ve had in as many days. They hail from Sweden, and somewhat predictably have the Swedish knack for squeezing a great tune into a four minute pop song. fabulously, they manage to make these songs sonically inventive whilst maintaining pop sensibilities.

Alina’s Place is a clicky, puffing and outrageously enjoyable pop-folk song enlivened by what sounds like the tinkling of jars full of water and gentle vocal chanting. It’s so comforting and cosy that if you listened to it whilst sitting in a bean bag and sipping on a mug of cocoa, you might slip into a coma of joy. Holm shuffles like an old man dancing to his favourite song and Angora Sleepwalking lumbers around, confused but happy, before bursting apart in an muddle of plucking and fiddling.

Fredrik are a folky, accessible cross between Sigur Ros and The Kings of Convenience, and much more fun than either. Their songs fuss along, scattering ever-inventive and enjoyably tactile noises on their way. They are poppy one moment and introspective the next, but their gentle, low-key and unassuming music is always sprightly and determinedly exciting. If you’re somewhere cold, like me, Fredrik are the warmth that you need in your life. Lovely. Listen to them here!

>Today’s New Band – Slagsmålsklubben – Bestival Themed Week!

>And next in our “Bands From Bestival” week…

Humour, apparently, is largely incompatible with the majority of bands. There are some exceptions – Aphex Twin seems to be largely playing it for laughs these days, and Hot Chip know how to have fun (and GASP! even dare to show it when they’re on stage) – but it’s hard to imagine po-facers like our old Über-serious chums Razorlight popping a ‘Ringo Track’ onto one of their albums. Given the choice between playing a song that suggests frivolous fun and inserting something spiky into his urethra, Jonny Borrell would not waste time in reaching for the Rawl-Plug. ‘Happy’ is, like, for the un-cool people, maaaan.

That must make Today’s New Band, Slagsmålsklubben, super-un-cool, because their music is as much fun as bellyflopping into a swimming pool full of thick yellow custard. Hopefully, songs as smile-forcingly unpretentious as Sponsored By Destiny, which splashes synths, drums and twinkly beats around with wild abandon, will make them enough money to buy enough tins of Bird’s to make this dream a sweet, sweet reality.

Malmo Beach Night Party is almost too bonkers to be released on record. It’s a manic collision of kids’ TV themes, the music played over the credits of an 80’s video game and a marimba gone crazy. If the Joker listened to music when he made his breakfast each morning, it’d be this. So happy and non-threatening that you start to look over your shoulder, just in case.
So here’s to Slagsmålsklubben, un-cool, un-caring and un-hinged. More fun than 10 bouncy castles. Listen to their borderline mentalism here!

>Today’s New Band – Juni Järvi

>Matching your music with moods is vital. For example, if I was feeling hyperactive, maybe ex-New Band of the Day LA PRIEST would be a useful match, meeting my need for animal-call driven dance music head on. Simialrly, if I was feeling the need for wearing check padded shirts, perhaps 90’s-sounding ex-New Band of the Day favourites Record Hop would be my pick. Presumably then, if I needed to engage in mind-bogglingly awful faeces-related sex-fetishim, then everyone’s favourite Japanese thrash-mentalists Coprophagia would be my ‘go-to’ band.

Thus, having listened to today’s New Band of the Day, Sweden’s Juni Järvi, I know have my perfect sounds for those dreamy, lounging-whilst-wearing-a-safari-suit-sipping-a-Martini- in-the-mid-1960’s days that we all indulge in now and again. His MySpace page is relaxed to the point of horizontal, and the tunes that list slowly to your ears are perfect for just letting the world slip slowly by, whilst raising a hopeful eyebrow at passing members of the opposite sex.

Stylised, maybe; but lovely, nonetheless. If We Just Want To is cheeky and wide-eyed, with vocals that are slightly reminiscant of Lou Reed. Maybe Lou Swede is a better description, bearing in mind nationalities and such-and-such. Falling Down is slightly reminiscent of the song Falling from Twin Peaks, and so can be labelled Good Stuff – mildly melancholic but happy. Possibly like Sweden itself.

Don’t forget, if you have a great band we should listen to and put on A New Band A Day, email me and tell me all about it. We listen to every band you suggest – promise!

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