Heretics: Rick Wakeman + Duran Duran = Success

Feeling exhausted after yesterday’s ejaculatory splurge of enthusiasm over such youthful and refreshing music making, I now need a band that does all the hard work for me.

There are bands that make you do the sweating and bands that do that on your behalf. Look at old ANBAD favourites My Bloody Valentine – to see them live is to experience utter helplessness. There is nothing you as an audience member can do other than cower helplessly under the overwhelming barrage of noise emerging from the stage.

And Lo! Here’s Heretics, a band who have pushed all the faders on their vast bank of synths to the top, have summoned up their inner Rick Wakeman and have crafted – no, splurged – a handful of  overblown keyboard operettas.

Frankly, I feel like I ought to have a natural dislike for music formed so comprehensibly from such sloshy synths. Blame Duran Duran. But however ludicrous such massive songs may be, it’s hard not to be won over by such unyielding force.

We Could Leave is so deliberately dark, moody and Eighties that we ought to reject it outright. But you won’t – there’s something alluring and magnetic about Heretics‘ music. A strange pleasure. Prepare for comfort/discomfort.

RQTN, JMJ, M83, AMA (And More Acronyms)

I once had an argument with a man in a pub about Jean Michel Jarre. Feel free to judge harshly on discovery of such fatuousness.

It all started, as most arguments in pubs do, with a flippant comment on an unimportant topic. The magnifying effects of booze did the rest.

I said that Jean Michel Jarre was the height of electronic music hopelessness – a vacuous whirlwind of 80’s Saturday-teatime TV show soundtracks  hidden behind a preposterous bank of keyboards, stageshows and lasers. To these ears, this still rings fairly true.

The Bar Stranger disagreed furiously, and cited his influence on Orbital, and others, though he may as well have been standing up for Vangelis.

The truth is that ‘JMJ’, as I imagine his bearded fans would call him, produces sub- Kraftwerk nonsense, albeit with a better fireworks show at the end of his gigs.

RQTN, both French and a producer of electronic music, may disagree.

RQTN also makes concept albums – his latest, Decades and Decisions, has a song for various decades from the last 100 years or so. The 80s warrant two, apparently. 1955 – A Shelter For Lovers is the sort of electronic dream music that you’d happily forgotten about, but on sober reflection, wish you hadn’t – it’s lush, trembling and, I daresay, drenched in emotion.

RQTN // 1955 – A Shelter For Lovers

RQTN‘s music would have been decreed fabulously un-cool just a few years ago, but thanks to a slew of excellent synth-pop from the likes of M83, he’s suddenly a musical entrepreneur, mining a seam of forgotten sonic textures and metronomically correct MIDI beats.

Such is the fickle nature of cool. Stop worrying, arguing and procrastinating, and simply listen. Warning: there may or may not be laser lightshow accompaniment.

>Today’s New Band – The Woo!Worths

>Art Brut have an ace new album out, Art Brut vs Satan. Making a connection between this and Friday’s new band would probably have been the smart thing to do, but then careful analysis of the facts has never been part of ANBAD’s ethos.

Art Brut‘s singer, Eddie Argos, has long been wide-eyed and fascinated with rock music’s bedroom/DIY underbelly. ” Why is everyone trying to sound like U2?” he asks. Slap dash for no cash/Those are the records I like/When something doesn’t sound quite right.”

It’s difficult to disagree with his logic. I’d prefer to live in a world of crackling songs made in a garden shed then listen to another super-slick Keane dirge too.

Today’s New Band don’t sound super-lo-fi, but they are in spirit, and that’s what counts. The Woo!Worths aren’t all sheen and no grit, but they manage to dip into Brian Eno’s Big Box of Smooth Smooth Sounds and pull out the interesting bits for their own use.

So from a lo-fi point of view, Konichiwa is a rock homebrew of tight 80’s sounds – synths, bright jangling guitars and vocoders. And it works, despite itself, lovable and knowing enough to pinch your attention.

Songs like Idle Hands that squelch and shimmer like a Pet Shop Boys remix, and Bug House Loco is the most fun I’ve had with my trousers on for ages. Depressingly, it’s also the most fun I’ve had with my trousers off too.

When I was at University, I worked at a Woolworth’s shop for about three months. It wasn’t the most pleasant experience; by which I mean it was mind-sappingly dreadful, and my will to live vanished the moment I stepped through the door. The Woo!Worths are what you’d assume working in a shop full of sweets, CDs and toys would be like – a load of carefree fun. And now they’ll never know the truth. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Cactapuss

>If you’ve ever procrastinated over anything at all, you’ll know that the associated frustrations of long-term hesitation envelops your mind like a big, stupid bobble-hat with the word ‘indecisive (or is he?)’ sewn on the front. ‘Paralysis through analysis’, the Manic Street Preachers sang on their ace ’96 B-side Dead Trees and Traffic Islands.

Something I find endlessly admirable is the verve and determination of young bands when they start out. Cynics, older minds and failures will label this as youthful naivety, and, if you cast a lazy eye over the sheer number of new bands all fighting for attention, it’s tempting to agree.

But that would be to side with the middle-aged, middle-management, MOR mindset and a tacit admission of the acceptability of mediocrity. Raise your glass, hat or an eyebrow to all the wide-eyed and ambitious youths who blunder over hesitance and shoot for the stars, however unlikely their journey may be.

Today’s New Band, Cactapuss, like their peers, presumably have one eye on the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll of the now and one on the NME cover, number one album and Top Of The Pops appearance of the future. Good. If bands didn’t think like that, we’d end up with more Keanes.

If you were trapped in a lift, but were happy to stay entombed because the lift music was so good, then Cactapuss are all yours. Their music is unassuming, but clever and engaging; the gentle, kind and fun sound that you’d like soundtracking the film of your life.

Wigbar, complete with gentle bloops, doo-doo-doo vocals and a tune you’ll be humming as you’re cooking tea later this evening, is a breezy, light, whistling slice of whimsy. Theme From Stuart And The Ants starts as the bastardised car-chase music from a ’70s cop movie and then cranks up the urgency with funk organs, rolling drums and a driving bassline.

Cactapuss are another of those bands who can draw on 50-odd years of pop music tricks and hooks to create something new/old, sounds that’ll trigger memories you’d forgotten. Listen here, and enjoy whilst indulging in lovely C90 nostalgia (you’ll see).

>Eccentric Millionaires, The Worst Band in The World, and Today’s New Band – Weird Gear

>Here’s a horrible truth: the rock ‘n’ roll world is overwhelmingly unfair. Unfairer even than real life, where bad stuff happens randomly to whoever, whenever. In Rock ‘n’ Roll World, the odds are actually stacked against you if your band is one or any of the following:

  1. New
  2. Inventive
  3. Good

This is a bit of a problem. Surely all of those things are what everyone actually wants to hear? And weren’t bands like, duh, The Beatles all of those things and a bit of a success? Well, yes and yes. BUT – here’s the trump card: Scouting For Girls. Not only are they a band utterly devoid of imagination, talent or likability, but they are also hugely successful.

They have sold over half a million copies of their execrable debut album. I have been clinging onto a vain hope that this figure is so inflated because an eccentric millionaire, driven crazy by the gut-wrenching inanity of the omnipresent She’s So Lovely, has been buying every copy available to prevent the general public from ever having to listen to it. But I think this might not be the case.

What is so galling about Scouting For Girls’ success is that, at heart, they are a simple Indie band that plays simple Indie tunes – much like the wonderful Popguns did in the late 80’s. But guess which band sold a bazillion copies of their album, and which one sold half a dozen?

Celebrate the good bands, while you can, is the moral of this story. One of these good bands is Today’s New Band. Weird Gear have taken the soundtrack from a low budget early-80’s sci-fi TV show and made it into music that is both enjoyable and danceable. This alone is some achievement, especially if you’ve ever sat through an early-80’s BBC sci-fi show.

While the title of Hamm Ond Cheese is almost too pun-tastic for words, it bubbles enthusiastically along, pulsing forwards with all the electro lo-fi nerdishness you’d expect of a band that have excitedly drawn up, in mind-boggling detail, a list of every single piece of electronic gubbins they used to create the sounds.

This is all part of Weird Gear‘s charm – electro-instrumental nerds are still outsiders in the four-square guitar-drums-bass-singer world of Rock ‘n’ Indie. Songs like Moulange, synth-o-tronic and sweeping, are so out of place with music today that they travel full circle and become vital in their opposition to the norm. Cobble together a Dalek out of toilet rolls and papier maché and travel back in time with Weird Gear here!

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

>Having returned from Bestival yesterday, the most surprising aspect in retrospect was that the weekend of mud, more mud and a dislikeable mixture of mud and (hopefully cattle) faeces, did not actually dampen (GEDDIT? LOLZ!1!11!!) the intrepid A.N.B.A.D team/posse/masochists one bit. In fact, it was almost a triumph, and the Saturday night, after the powers that be had finally decided that we were requisitely muddy, was one of the best ever experienced at a festival.

So here’s the very briefest list of Bestival high points:

  1. My Bloody Valentine – still mind-warpingly loud, even when outside
  2. Hot Chip – defying all rock ‘n’ roll logic by continuing to get better, bolder and more bangin’
  3. Lethal Bizzle – couldn’t have got the crowd more excitable or more kinetic unless they’d lobbed AIDS-riddled rats with live hand grenades strapped to their backs into the audience. Brilliant.
  4. Wandering backstage by mistake and finding a row of pristine, spotless (i.e. poo-less) toilets – pure pleasure.

Obviously, being A New Band A Day, we weren’t only there to see these established bands, but to also check out some of the new ‘uns. So for the rest of the week, we’re keeping on our inevitable 3-am purchases of Peruvian pixie hats, glo-sticks and day-glo face paints and we’ll be showcasing bands from Bestival. A Themed Week! Hooray!

Today’s New Band managed to brave the Introducing stage, shortly before it finally plunged head first, Titanic-style, into the mud. They are Zombie Zombie, and, like their name, are delightfully confusing and confusingly delighting in equal measure.

Live, their swirling, wilfully bizarre sound fills the air with the same all-consuming unease in the same way a crowd of the undead pressing their faces against a window might. On record, they sound less ear-worrying, but grind out great tunes – Walk of the Dead is a the bleepy, creepy, sound-of-adrenaline music that would be played in a futuro-dystopian zombie movie during the bit where the hero steels themselves to face the flesh-hungry hoards.

With that in mind, Driving This Road Until Death Sets You Free soundtracks the scene where the same, now-bloodied, hero only just manages to flee, terrified and weeping. It’s pin-sharp, taut and would give you the creeps if you listened to it in a dark room. Yummy. Sometimes a good scare is what you need.

Listen to Zombie Zombie‘s great tunes here! (But arm yourself with an improvised weapon first – fire extinguishers are useful for bewildering and clunking)

>Today’s New Band – Soft Toy Emergency

>Firstly, please accept A.N.B.A.D.’s huge, sloppy kisses, wilted flowers and drunken apologies for their being no Band of the Day yesterday. It’s never happened before, and it won’t happen again, I promise. In fact, the litany of problems and unforeseen issues that stopped anything being posted was so ridiculously unlikely, It can’t happen again.

As way of further apology, we’ve managed to rustle up a Band Of The Day that is worth the wait. One part electronic mayhem, one part crazy yelping and a billion parts awesomeness, Soft Toy Emergency are the band to reach up your trouser leg, grab you by the balls and then drag you to the dancefloor – and you’d thank them for it.

Colourful, buzzing and twitching, MIX ME is driven by the squelchiest riff you’ve ever heard, and jerks itself around like a hyperactive kid at the school disco.

On I KNO U WANT IT, they channel the bizarro-spirit of the B-52’s and squish it into the shape of an electro-pop HIT. Managing to pull off the tricky challenge of producing a sound that is now and stylish but without any of the awful too-cool-for-school posturing that usually drowns the sound in idiocy.

Soft Toy Emergency sound like they are having the most loosely controlled fun of all time and it sounds a like a blast of monster proportions. You’ll want to put on technicolour spandex and frug yourself stupid, and then post a video of yourself doing it on Youtube – because you just WON’T CARE. Listen to their acey-tunes here!

>Today’s New Band – Padre Pio

>Bands have perceived connections with the past whether you, or they, want them or not. If yesterday’s new band, Saboteur, reminded us of the 90’s – if not in sound, at least in spirit – then Today’s New Band, Padre Pio, simply reek of the 70’s and 80’s, sonically and, quite possibly, intellectually.

And if that has conjured up images of 70’s wank-rock or 80’s poodle-hair-rock, then a) wash your mind with bleach; no-one deserves to inflict that kind of mental torture to themselves, and b) instead think of when rock was a bit luxuriant, asexual and gleaming. Think Bowie and Lou Reed. Think of druggy, sharp-suited excess and eyeshadow on men. Think of a time when rock wasn’t scruffy, but glistening with confidence.

Padre Pio‘s songs caress your eardrums with all of those things. Colour is a synthy glammy pop breeze, and Common Day is the great late 70’s New York song you’ve never heard. It also, against all odds, achieves rock’s most risky, difficult feat: a great Sax solo. Their songs are slightly pompous, eccentric and lithely predatory – all missing in most music now, and extremely welcome.

Surely Padre Pio aren’t going to be gazing at the stars forever, wondering when they can strut their stuff in, I like to imagine, delightfully-cut suits. A band this swooning and sexy has to, and deserves to, end up foppishly jostling with the big boys. Brill. Listen to them here!

P.S. As a side note, Padre Pio are, apparently, from Bushwick, in Brooklyn. This has no connection at all with rapper Bushwick Bill from the Geto Boys, but it’s still an excuse to show the cover of their album We Can’t Be Stopped, which features Bushwick Bill being rolled into hospital AFTER HE SHOT HIMSELF IN THE EYE. Now that’s hardcore.

>Today’s New Band – Q Without U


As anyone who has spent time stuck in a caravan on a rainy week in Wales will know, Scrabble is the kind of game that only people with giant intellects can really play. All the rest of us just take part, and grind our teeth with frustration as our opponent beats your last move of “dog” with “onomatopoeic”, or similar.

That said, these insufferable people are directly responsible for the invention of the video game, allowing us mouth-breathers to be victorious at something, so perhaps they can be spared from utter hatred. Either way, Scrabble champs would take a situation where they were faced with the dreaded “Q” tile in their stride. They’ve memorised the list of all words spelt using Q without U, you see. Yes, there are 24 of them. No, you won’t know what they mean, or ever need to use them. Or know how to.

For those of us with social lives, the only instance of Q without U that will be of any importance is Today’s New Band. From Glasgow, like just about every other band of any interest, Q Without U meld super-tuneful guitar rock with whizzy synths into punchy pop songs that, like in ace tune The Deficit Model, tread on the right side of traditional rock without descending into Runrig hell. So, melodic, but not drab, and not taking the easy route. Songs like Our Luck Is A Prostitute are quirky enough, with its soaring chorus, to soar a bit before floating gently back to earth.

Oh, and they say that they’re “Like the shit bits of your favourite band”, which is a good enough starting point for me.

Listen to their songs on their Myspace page here!