The Birdman Rallies – Breathless Enthusiasm and Golden Retrievers

Nothing replaces the thrill of discovering a new band all by yourself and then scampering off, dander up, to breathlessly tell your friends how just unbelievably amazing they are.

I received the email equivalent of this friendly nagging, from a reader called Alex. Alex’s email was a tumble-jumble of superlatives, all of which were rooted in sheer enthusiasm for a new band discovered in a bar.

And that excites me too, in an empathic reflex action. The cynic in me was quelled, and I felt the same thrilling surge, excited to hear The Birdman Rallies for myself. I wasn’t disappointed at all.

The Birdman Rallies // Colour In A Corner Of The Night

There’s something very loveable about The Birdman Rallies, in the way a very clean, glossy-haired Golden Retriever is when it jumps up and places paws on your hips; happy to see you, ready to play.

Hearty and heartfelt, warm and loving, shimmering and bright – this is a band who, as Alex found, beg superlatives. It’s the song’s inherent warmth that is the most enjoyable, hitting like waves with every chorus.

For someone who is supposed to be recommending bands through the medium of the written word, I’m struggling to stretch beyond, ‘they’re just delightful.’

Loved ones will be hugged, the world will take on a rosy hue, and everything will be just OK. Like Alex, I’m a convert, and this is my testimony.

>Erland and The Carnival: A (Very) Northern Soul

How weird. Feeding a Spotify addiction is a delicate task, and this time it was via nostalgic meandering around some youthful favourites. Rediscovering The Verve‘s druggy, droney, sprawling A Northern Soul was a thrill, and it sounds as happily wasteful, internal and expressive as ever.

And then here’s Erland and The Carnival – and look who’s listed #1, primetime and centre, on the list of band members: hello, Simon Tong, from The Verve. It’s an understandable decision – people will recognise his name over that of Orcadian Erland Cooper’s – but it’s Erland who perhaps ought to be taking just as many plaudits.

The songs he sings are sweet, gentle and kind, like the distant uncle you’ll make annual chit-chat with over Christmas. Songs like Was You Ever See have the soft, strange and remote feel of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci‘s nicest songs. Was You Ever See finds a golden, warm moment of life and commits it to song; fragile, thin, lovable.

Erland and The CarnivalMy Name Is Carnival (UPDATE: Changed at record company’s request)

Songs like these are fairly rare – mainstream enough to connect, quirky enough to sate the defiantly left-leaning. There’s a lovely lightness of touch on their recordings – Simon Tong’s influence, maybe. Gorky’s almost made the leap to the big time, but were just that little bit too out there to entice the general public any closer. Maybe Erland & co. can land feet first. Here’s hoping.

>We Aeronauts and Sex In Transit Vans

What happens when a band grows up? I don’t mean that in the sense of the usual band progression of: Bright Young Things > Big Cynical Rock Juggernaut > Guitarist’s acoustic side project > Band split, reform and discover folk rock. I mean intellectual development, when a band get past the sex-with-groupies-in-the-Transit-Van stage.

‘Thought’ and ‘rock music’ aren’t happy bedfellows, but can occasionally pair up without resulting in honest that’s never happened to me before pretentiousness.

Take We Aeronauts, who maintain a thoughtful approach without making music that is only of interest to themselves. So songs like Fleet River build and grow organically, exploring new dimly-lit places, but not disappearing up one of their own.

Fleet River is a sound-fog of carefully selected rattles, stretched notes and sounds that transform, eventually, into an evocative and grand song. And Boatswain’s Cry is cut from more standard cloth – it’s an actually lovely song; serious without self-importance.

We Aeronauts are charmers: intelligent, educated and talented. If you met them in a bar, you’d ask them out on a date. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Boat Beam

Today’s New Band are really nice. Ouch, I just used the ‘N’-word. But it’s in context, yeah, so it’s OK. And anyway, lots of my friends are nice, and they don’t mind me using that word.

I’ll say it again: Boat Beam are nice, and unashamedly so too. They’re a peculiar Australian-Spanish-American hybrid, and this shows in their music, the origins of which can’t quite be nailed to one place. Their niceness, I assume, comes from the bonhomie that a multi-lingual friendship necessitates. This is a good thing.

Igloo begins loopily and rolls from there, embracing unusual structure, sounds and intent on the way. It’s always heartening to hear an indie band working differently, and here they have a good stab, wrapping reversed vocals around a hesitant rhyme.

The Rain Pauly is just lovely. Again, there’s no other, more zingy, word to describe it. Slippery vocals slump over a simply rounding guitar and form a dreamy, sweet, floating song that feels like a heartfelt hug received after a tough day.

Lots of the bands on ANBAD are abrasive, or obtuse, or noisy, or all three at once. Boat Beam are here to partially redress the balance; slight, happy-go-lucky and warm. Listen if you have the sun shining on you. And if not, listen anyway and maybe you’ll forget that it isn’t.

Photography by Candela Sotos

>Today’s New Band – Gemma Ray

There’s a club in Manchester that I keep getting drawn too, despite myself. I’ve never actually noticed its name, such is my rush to get inside, but I call it Nerd Bar, due to the overwhelming concentration of computer science and IT students that patronise it.

The music is a complex blend of the great (the ubiquitous Smiths) and the deeply abject (decade-old Fatboy Slim songs), which is tailored to the specific needs of the nerds: good enough songs to keep the party going, and songs dreadful enough to appeal to Jamiroquai fans.

Laugh at the sweaty, strangely-haired and weirdly dressed crowd trying to ape Jay Kay’s dancing if you like, but be sure that they’re thinking exactly the same about you when they visit your club.

Lights Out Zoltar! sounds like one of the so-bad-it’s-bad 70’s sci-fi movies that are projected onto the walls of the club, but it’s actually the new album from Today’s New Band, Gemma Ray. She’s no geek, but the macabre feel sloshing around her music similarly alienates her from the bulk of society. It also separates her from the hoards of Kate Bush-a-like female singers shrieking in the charts now.

(You Got Me In A) Death Roll, seductive, eerie and slinky, will have you under its spell, helpless and rapt. It’s a woozy, libertine and defiant; Gemma Ray is a woman who wants it her way, and will get it too. 100 MPH (In 2nd Gear) is a beautifully overblown, string-driven ballad and Dry River is just unusual enough to elevate the song into a newer territory.

Gemma Ray could hit the big time quite easily, which is an unusual occurrence for a band featured on ANBAD. It’s not that she’s commercial-sounding, but that she’s intriguing and better than her contemporaries. She’d deserve it too, for all the right reasons. Listen here!

Photo by Eric Weiss –

>Today’s New Band – L’Aurore

Christ, there were a lot of unread emails in my inbox. I hope any of you who kindly emailed in weren’t too distraught when you received the soulless/mindless automated email reply only seconds after your sweaty fingers clicked ‘Send’.

But here, in the small discrete bubble of internet access that is to be found in Slovenia, I’ve had a chance to partially redress the awfully skewed balance, and have had the not-unlovely experience of pairing the visceral delights of Slovene woodland with listening to the usual, brilliantly motley, crew of suggested bands.
One such band got in touch while I was toiling in the Mid-Euro Wifi Dead Zone, and said that I should listen to their music “as I walk around on my trip.”After having blown all my cash getting as far as Mitteleurope (leaving me a bit unsure of how to get home, frankly), walking and listening to things are among the few luxuries I can still afford, so I took L’Aurore‘s advice.
Well – they were right. Their music is the kind of expansive, gilded post-rock that suits such strenuous activities as watching the world go by and looking at tree-covered mountains. El Corazon Humano, tender, thumping and relaxed, played as I sat by a clear Alpine river, and the two flowed together; imperceptible, restful and golden.

Before We Explode soundtracked some otherwise quiet moments spent in dappled sunlight in the greenest forest I have ever sat in. The sounds were gently sweeping, quietly thoughtful and adroitly assembled.
I often wonder how much of the enjoyment derived from a song is as much to do with the circumstances under which it was heard as much as the music itself. I was left soothed and happy by hearing L’Aurore’s music in this lovely setting. Would it elicit the same reaction in a busy city? Probably. But you’ll have to find out for me. Comments, as always, are welcome below.

>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 – Goodbyehome PLUS! Reform or New Forms?


Did you know The Only Ones are reformed and gigging again? No, me neither. They split in ’82. If their name doesn’t ring bells, their ace hit Another Girl, Another Planet will – which is, as you’ll now remember, about as good a power-pop-punk song as has ever been written. Still not sure? Listen to it once and the song’ll still be pinging around your head when you go to sleep.
Re-forming is a bit of a tough decision to make for any band – Rock ‘n’ Roll isn’t about steering towards a pension at the end of it all, it’s about going down in a blaze of messy glory and fond memories. It’ll either be one last hurrah or one more drudge in front of aging fans from the old days.
I like to think that when faced with the possibility of seeing a reformed band, I’d dismissively murmur “Don’t look back”, in a smoulderingly pouty way. But then in the last 18 months, I’ve seen My Bloody Valentine and Bis (see previous posts ad nauseum) and have raved endlessly about both. And then look at it this way: If The Smiths reformed, who wouldn’t sell the family silver for a ticket?
Even so, there’s usually more compelling reasons to see a new band than an old one. You might catch them in a breathless, excitingly embryonic stage, which is kind of where Today’s New Band, Goodbyehome, are at. They’re from Chicago, and have that rare folky wistfulness that makes your heart soar and drop simultaneously.
Why I Never Run aches with loving tenderness. The guitar and strings soar over each other, weaving a sound so happy-sad that you might even miss the fact that the vocals do exactly the same thing in exactly the same way. Chemicals and Compromise has the kind of rambling rambunctiousness that’ll grab you by the lapels and pull you onto the dancefloor.
Goodbyehome make the music that would accompany sad, fond memories of a roadtrip where, after driving for hours in the wilderness, you met a beautiful girl at a bar in the middle of nowhere, and spent your whole night with her, knowing you’d never see her again. Sob. Sit at a lonely bar, nurse a beer and reminisce with them here!

>Today’s New Band – My Kappa Roots PLUS! Pathetic Premature Writer’s Crisis

>Greetings for a second time ANBADers, I have returned. Yes, that’s right, my probationary period with ANBAD continues, and with it so do my first tentative steps into the world of music writing. I feel I must begin with a confession. Whilst searching for today’s band, I became scared. I began to realise that in committing myself to even one review a week, I would have to give up hours of my free time searching for that one band that really made it all worthwhile. What would happen if I just couldn’t find a band I really wanted to listen to? I wondered, quite seriously, how ANBAD creator Joe has managed to do this for so long (he’s already written a freaking book) without going literally insane.

So I was thinking, you know, maybe I’m just not cut out for this. It all got a little bit too much for me to take, until Joe stepped in, put a kindly hand on my shoulder* and said: “Come on champ, you can do it. I believe in you.” All of a sudden I felt rejuvenated, as though I had been born again. And then, like magic, I found today’s band. Let’s just say they’re less German Electro, more Glaswegian/Fiferian not-particularly-pigeonholeable-I-really-don’t-want-to-say-singer-
songwriter-for-fear-that-you-might-think-of-dross-like-(insert-uninspiring-singer-songwriter-here). Anyway, it’s time to put the best china out along with the good biscuits, and welcome My Kappa Roots to the ANBAD home.

Firstly let’s get things straight, I like a lot of singer-songwriters. But lazily comparing My Kappa Roots to a mixture of Nick Drake and Bonnie “Prince” Billy just wouldn’t do now would it? Suffice to say that My Kappa Roots are more than just the sum of their influences. For instance, When the Reign Came to an End makes me bemoan the Delgados splitting-up a little less, and that really is saying something. Its beautiful melody, supported by a sparse drum machine arrangement (if you listen on headphones you’ll really get the benefit of his self-harmonising as well) is soothing and has a, for want of a better word epic quality.

A Golden Age has a beautiful guitar intro, which holds its own throughout the song, and melody delivered with a both lovely and non-smug whisper (yes, I didn’t think it was possible either). Port CW does the vulnerable loud-quiet-loud thang commendably (for the benefit of pedantic readers, yes it is technically quiet-loud-quiet-loud), with whining guitars and grumbling noise followed swiftly by the musical equivalent of down time.

My Kappa Roots’ lack of a “folk-by-numbers” approach is refreshing, although the more stripped-down songs stand up well against the more ambitious ones. Resisting the temptation to shoehorn a drum machine into every song simply because it works so well on the first is commendable, but succinctly illustrates the fact that every part of each song’s arrangement has a reason for being there. I was relieved to find My Kappa Roots for all the wrong reasons, hopefully you might like them for all the right ones.

*punched me repeatedly whilst threatening castration