Longsleeves; Collect-This, Collect-That, Collect to Win!

Collectives, eh? They’re the new everything.

As usual, blame the internet and its free-thinking ways. I don’t know how the progressive thoughts of a few neo-hippy geeks sits with you, but if collaboration and sharing are the results, then pass me the sick bucket. Everything was better when a few wise cigar-chomping sages controlled the destiny of the hungry many.

Only kidding, of course. This kind of operation is so vastly superior to what went before, its almost silly.

Working as a collective must be just simply easier – whether your collaboration is musical or organisational, the grinding weight is lifted from the hitherto struggling individual, and better music is clearly the result.

Take Golau Glau as a good example of the stupendous collective-derived music that has come before, and to them add Longsleeves, part of the ominously-named Sixty Years War Collective.

Longsleeves // Bring The Devil Into The House

Bring The Devil Into The House sits comfortably somewhere between exhileration and downright puzzlement. A song for all emotional seasons, if you will.

Building with vicious precision and an unwavering adherence to The Rules – ‘music must = good times’ – Longsleeves has created a sound that is almost unique.

By dragging together such desperate sounds – glossy, pearly synth noises, hissing, compressed snares, the sound of a 1980’s home computer loading from a tape, Longsleeves are not only light years ahead of the majority but also the best and most persuasive argument for the collective system yet. Great.

Listen to more Longsleeves here

>Laurel Collective, and The Coldplay Pleasure Principal Denial

Coldplay must have a whole raft of fans who own their records and yet won’t admit it. It’s a shame that so many people can’t live with the reality of preferring slick MOR rock to the Skins/OC prescribed-cool bands; groups whose names are dropped like discarded chewing-gum now, but will be forgotten when drumming the steering wheel along to X+Y on the school run in ten years’ time.

Music is a great truth-bringer in that sense – it’s so intertwined with pleasure that, when really needed, you will always reach for the record that really makes you happy, which is not necessarily the one that will bolster your cool quota. And if that record is by U2, then so be it. But, yes, we’ll all still be sniggering at you.

And so, the rarity of hearing a band that actually try to veer away from the safer Keane-esque route to success is all the more heartening. I’m sure that Laurel Collective have it in them to make a record that would snag that discerning Radio 2 audience, but they deliberately have not. For this they deserve all the plaudits they will surely get.

Take Carrie. The template is the standard rock set-up, but here is proof that it can still be applied in creepy and unusually new ways – still capable of the necessary emotional pull, though without sacrificing creativity and the thrill that fresh sounds bring.

Laurel Collective – Cheap

Or take Cheap: shoving twitchy drums and a wired bassline to the fore is often a recipe for disaster, but here rewards are reaped and heads are turned – or yanked even, such is the ferocity and excitement of Laurel Collective‘s aural onslaught.

New, sharp, aware: Laurel Collective are a joy. And if they do become a middle age/class favourite, it won’t be for want of trying.

Photography by Gareth Jackson

>Today’s New Band – March On Moscow

>One of the real joys of running A New Band A Day is finding a band or artist right at the embryonic stage, where the qualities that seep out of their songs are nothing more compolicated than raw talent, hope and amateurism. Those three attributes are, together, a thrilling proposition – and just as likely to result in disapppointment as much as novel pleasure.

Today’s New Band , March on Moscow, is ‘boxfresh’, as a sneaker-fetishist might say, but has a spark, a barb – something indescribable, triggering the desire to listen again, more intently. At the time of review, MoM has one song to be heard – Several Times – and it’s a wild, intense, multiple-identity song that revels in instrumental dabbling, driving onwards into the self-made darkness. It’s an inventive past/future/present melding of sounds.

So March on Moscow can be a case study of newness – a young man throwing caution to the wind, doing something that he loves, and praying that it works for others too. It does. Good luck, March on Moscow. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – In Grenada!

>Having seen Oliver Stone’s JFK for the first time, here are my considered observations:

  1. After three hours of a movie, both my buttocks go numb
  2. Back and to the left back and to the left back and to the left ZOMG BLACK OPS!!1!!!1!!
  3. If any film was destined to be identified as a ‘dizzying tour de force’ by lazy journalists and film students everywhere, this was it.

It’s hard not to be entirely in thrall with such a brilliant assembly-job like JFK. It pulls so many different strands together with such intelligence and coherence, it doesn’t really matter if the story itself is bananas or not.

Today’s New Band pull off a similar trick, I suppose. In Grenada have created a dense, warm, attractive sound by fusing the old and the new, the grand and the slight.

Broken Castle
is what the Arcade Fire might sound like if they weren’t so humourless – it’s a cheery, clobbering romp. Beating Heart, suitably pulsating, throbs with drive and determination. In these songs, they sound world-weary and happy to be alive all at once.

Whatever it is that their songwriter eats for breakfast, I want some, because all of In Grenada’s songs are urgent and confident, piledriving their folksy melodies into a bigger rock template. Need vim? Need vigour? Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Friska Viljor PLUS! "It’s BAWWWSS TAAAIIIIME!"


Someone sent me a link to the half-time entertainment from the Super Bowl. My knowledge of American Football began and ended in a bar in Haight in San Fransisco, where I watched a game whilst the myriad rules were explained to me by increasingly exasperated friends. Even though it seemed that my knowledge of the game decreased exponentially the more was explained to me, I enjoyed watching the nylon blur of colours trying to cripple each other.
This particular video began with an announcement – “It’s Boston!” which immediately caused an involuntary keyboard-stabbing recoil, in fear of the upcoming MOR onslaught. After a few seconds, it dawned that “Boss Time!” had actually been announced, and so I settled back to enjoy some only slightly less MOR rock.
Bruce Springsteen has an influence on modern rock that I suspect comes from many bands’ too-intimate childhood knowledge of parents’ record collections. Bands have learnt to drop in epic power chord choruses willy-nilly, and the result, ultimately, has been The Killers. The Boss has also become a nice easy comparison for music reviewers to sling at any band with a big, lush rawk tune in its armoury. Reviews of the last, hugely overblown Arcade Fire album were particularly guilty of this.
If there is a bit of The Boss in Today’s New Band, Friska Viljor, he’s hiding, or at least exploring a newly cute side. Shuddering inevitability out of the way first: they’re from Sweden, and so are typically tuneful, upbeat and unpretentious. Their songs are joyous, gentle and poppy – the antidote to almost all current rock music.
Songs like Arpeggio are so simple, kind and happy that only a determinedly awful person would not feel toes involuntarily twitching to the twittering beat. Choruses soar sweetly, without bloating or preening. Old Man is almost Ska-Pop, but not quite; this in itself is its saving grace – and its chorus rockets into the clouds, mindless and gleeful. Early Morning changes again, slickly rocking with stabbing guitar and metronomic drums, and then Gold grabs a big, loony, falsetto chorus from the Chorus Gods and shoves it at you madly.
Friska Viljor are rock magpies, nibbling this sound and that riff and producing music that flip-slops whichever way they fancy. Maybe calling their sound a musicial Smörgåsbord would be one glib Swedish reference too far, but damn it, it fits perfectly. Get your fill here!

>Today’s New Band – Ganz Anders PLUS! Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


Having written in breathless, lusty fashion on Lou Reed‘s Transformer a few days ago, whilst visiting the record shop over the weekend, the cranky rocker was foremost in my mind. A chain of events had been initiated that were too all-encompassing, too powerful and too spookily ordered to resist.
Drawn, magnetically, to the ‘R’ section, I click-clacked the CDs until I found the Reed, Lou tab. It was there. It fluttered its cracked-jewel-case eyelashes at me. It was a paltry £3. It accompanied me straight to the till. It was the album I had always wanted, but was never brave enough to buy. It was Metal Machine Music.
Has another album has inspired so much negativity? In the true spirit of the awkward, deliberately obtuse music fan, there are as many web pages describing how bad it is as there are proclaiming its genius. Here’s what it actually is: an hour-long album of guitar feedback. No, that’s not an abject attempt at wry witticism – it is literally just that, guitar on guitar, howling and feeding back on themselves.
So is it really that awful/great? Well, I listened to it, and… enjoyed it. At the ten minute mark, mild agony sets in, but those brave or dumb enough to stick with will find that it eventually transcends sound itself, and the noise seems to sync with your brainwaves. Like when someone keeps telling the same joke and it eventually becomes funny again. It’s clearly an experiment, taken beyond its logical limitations, and I warmed to it for those exact reasons.
Today’s New Band, Ganz Anders, can take heart from the fact that all they need to do is produce something other than 64 minutes of white noise, and they won’t be hated as much as Lou Reed circa 1974. Ganz Anders make big, long, clunky house music. They’re from Holland, and if you’ve ever been to Holland, you’ll know that a) everyone seems a bit too tall, and b) they know how to have a good time.
Broken is big, grubby, and heavy, like a Victorian steam engine. It sounds along those lines too, intimidating one and all with its unusually hearty beats, pulses and squawks. In the middle it collapses under its own vast mass, before finally clambering back to it’s rightful, relentless pace.
Bells has a section that sounds like one long, extended fart, and yet still has serious house chops – it’d slip into a 1988 setlist at The Hacienda with ease. Autospeck maintains that careful balance between the breakdown and the hands-in-the-air transcendence that all good house music needs.
So Ganz Anders also make abstract noise when they want to. Perhaps Lou Reed was aiming for this, and just got lost on the way. Or wasted. One of these options may be truer than the other. Ganz Anders stayed focused and are having a hell of a time. Rave on!

>Today’s New Band – The Hopeful Spaztiks PLUS! Paranoia!


Isn’t it funny how things work out? Tupac Shakur started out as a bit-part player on lunatic funk-drenched hip-hoppers Digital Underground. Listen to their brilliant first album, Sex Packets, and you’ll occasionally hear bursts of the voice that went on to release a bewildering number of albums – most of them posthumously.
Tricky was once just a voice too – albeit a similarly distinct one – on the first two Massive Attack albums. He then left, in mild acrimony, recycled a couple of his lyrics from his Massive Attack days, added some awkward noises, and emerged with Maxinquaye – one of the most affecting, original slices of unusual, paranoid fuzzy noise ever.
It was drenched in mythical hype – stories of journalists being forced to make copies at gunpoint and the like circulated wildly in these pre-internet days. The review copies were supposedly robed in a velvet case which was in turn sealed into a miniature plastic bodybag. The album was set up for a huge, underwhelming fall. It didn’t come. It’s a woozy, confused masterpiece.
Hype is always a difficult card to play. Raving about a band too much, however truly you may mean what you say, makes you and them appear misguided and desperate. I may be both of those things, but I’d hate to drag a good new band down with me. So if praise isn’t too forthcoming about Today’s New Band, it’s not because they’re not super-ace (they are), but because I’m trying to under-hype them, if that’s possible.
The Hopeful Spaztiks round off an impressively diverse month on A New Band A Day in cranky style. They’re a band who can maintain five different musical points of view at once, and flit between them all. Song Aquatic sounds like a toy racing car, and swerves like one too, veering over a number of electro cliffs in the process.
Cup Of is deranged enough to summon up the spirit of Level 42, sneaking in the 80’s most estate-agent-friendly instrument – the slap-bass – and make it work. Hail ping-pongs appropriate noises off your confused brain, resetting your innate sense of rhythm to synchronise with their warped vision.
The Hopeful Spaztiks’ sound like the prettily naive work of complete novices given shape, coherence and funk by a mysterious guiding hand. They straddle looseness and tightness like a before-and-after photograph of a hanging. Dangle with them, here!

PS – Are you the kind of person that NEEDS TO KNOW WHAT EVERYONE’S DOING ALL OF THE TIME? Then get yourself hooked up to the ANBAD Twitter feed!

>Jack Nicholson, Boxing and Today’s New Band – Genio and Ginesio

>Here at A New Band A Day, we like to think that we’re cocky and hard, a bit like Robert DeNiro in Mean Streets, whereas actually we’re the wussy streaks of Indie piss that you’d have imagined. To counter this innate sense of wimpish patheticness, we all stayed up until well past our bedtimes to watch the Calzaghe vs Jones Jnr fight over the weekend.

The idea of being a boxer is quite attractive in some ways – who wouldn’t like to be a mass of muscle, quick reactions and bloody cuts? Plus, soaking up all that female adulation kind of compensates for all those brain cells that get squished every time you step into the ring.

As much as I’d like to see Tom Chaplin from Keane – the most terrifyingly middle class band alive – plonked into a sparring session with Joe Calzaghe, I know it’s not going to happen. Rock stars are wusses. That’s why they’re rock stars in the first place, see – being a rock star is the wimp’s alternative to being a boxer. You get a chance to grab all the attention, women and admiration, but without the hours of blood, sweat and tears.

And talking of wanting attention, welcome Genio and Ginesio, who say that making music is their third love, after sex and football. This seems a fairly reasonable ranking in the grand scheme of things. Their remix of Articolo 31‘s Voglio Una Lurida is frighteningly jolly. Listening to it is like being attacked with marshmallows, aggressive in its mission to cheer you up. The song itself will leech imperceptibly into your brain and then burrow its way so far in you’ll be whistling its weird regga/gabba (reggabba?) refrain all day long.

Genio and Ginesio‘s trick is to take a great song and flip its constituent components around. This sounds like a simple game to play, but is fraught with hazards – the most troublesome being the danger that the resulting new song will be worse than the original. They dodge this successfully – and turn the Beastie BoysSo What’cha Want into a big, rumbling and humming electro crusierweight of a song, light enough to move and heavy enough to hurt.

If being a musician makes you a boxer by proxy – a proxy boxer, if you will – then it must make us listeners the equivalent of Jack Nicholson cosying up to some fashion models in the ringside seats. That makes me happy. Grab a supermodel, a cigar and listen to Genio and Ginesio here!

>Today’s New Band – Kaiton

>I started a Spanish class yesterday. I already knew a bit of Spanish, or so I thought. This is what I learnt:

  1. That the word for ‘handcuffs’ in Spanish is the same as the word for ‘wife’
  2. The word to describe a cute child is the same as ‘monkey’
  3. That I knew how to ask whether a hotel has a room for two people, for three nights, (preferably with a bathroom), but was stumped when I had to explain what my age and name is.

This minor idiotic trait of my brain – to forget the basics and cling onto the less useful – is actually probably shared by many of you reading this. You want to listen to something new, flighty and inventive that might be either great or awful, not just to plump for the safe dirge of the new Oasis album. This is the musical equivalent of my brain’s linguistic forgetfulness.

This all probably makes Today’s New Band, Kaiton, Spanish for “I need you to to discombobulate my goat”, though the music itself isn’t quite that leftfield. Tingle pulses with the electronic bleeps you’d expect to hear in the monitoring room of a nuclear power plant, all the while building into a driving, wide-open song. Field Study 24 slides slowly by like a big container boat, and making similarly oceanic, large ‘n’ quiet noises.

Kaiton‘s music is exploratory, pushing outwards, here and there, and finding new alleyways to creep down. To call electronic music ‘organic’ is both a cliché and disingenuous, but it kind of fits with Kaiton. Music to watch time-lapse films of plants growing to. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Munch Munch

>There’s a lot to be said for precision and organisation. Streamline your life for mega profit! A tidy home is a tidy mind! De-clutter your surroundings for SUPER ZEN! There’s a reason that Chuck D is such a furious individual, you know – he hasn’t tidied his Rumpus room for years.

Whilst the idea of Chuck D calming down purely because he’s broken out the Dustbuster might be slightly* untrue, there really is as much to be said for disorganisation too. OK, so a desk chock full of papers might cause your plate of toast to fall to the floor, inevitably butter-side down; but how else would you find out whether you like the taste of floor fluff on your toast or not?

The point is that apparent chaos can have pleasant, unexpected results. Today’s New Band don’t seem to merely thrive on the unexpected noise that’s made as they bash instruments, but have adopted it as an ethos. They’re the appropriately named Munch Munch, chomping, as they do, through instruments, sounds and styles, all with fabulous disdain for convention.

The gloriously bonkers-named Endolphins is a twinkling frenzy of invention, clattering, shimmering and splashing all over the place through all of its 3 minutes – and yet there’s a lovely melody that occasionally resurfaces when it feels brave enough. Wedding begins in barely-there chaos, all noise and no direction, before suddenly transforming into a super-fun fairground organ-led pop song, and then reinventing itself for a second time in the same song a few minutes later.

Gloriously deranged, Munch Munch are flailing, crazily, sticking thumbs into pies here, there and everywhere and yet managing to pull out a plum each time. Welcome back, insanity. Embrace it wholeheartedly here!