Ball Of Flame Shoot Fire; Exclamation Marks Optional

People will tell you that, when writing, never use an exclamation mark if you want humour to be taken seriously. People are stupid.

Because if one band ever cried out for an exclamation mark, it’s Ball Of Flame Shoot Fire. Perhaps agonising over the punctuation of a band’s name is endlessly petty, or, frankly, autistic – or both – but there, I’ve said it: Ball Of Flame Shoot Fire! is just better.

But then if you’re a band that writes songs as frolicking and carefree as Patience, punctuation becomes moot.

Ball Of Flame Shoot Fire // Patience

It’s a truly strange song. Articulate and tangible in its weirdness, Patience rigidly rambles, deviates and tramples over its own vapour streams. Songs that are fully disarming and genuinely affecting are rare; this one, then, is both precious and shiny.

As such, grab the chance to hear a song that seems less fragile and more curious with every listen, and wonder why – as it sounds so easy, so effortless – everyone else isn’t doing it too. Excellent, strange, true.

White Fang – Sweat, Crunch and Rockin’ Soul

White Fang: Colourful hats

A New Year, a new agenda. So here’s the first new band of the new year – and they’re a band with an agenda, though they’d never admit to it. White Fang‘s songs, their image, their approach to music – it could all be paraphrased in a single, 20-foot-high flaming Hollywood-hills sign spelling out the word ‘WHATEVER’.

Crunchy back-to-basics Garage Rock collides with irrational hatred in Portland Sucks, a song so replete with juddering chords that the raw brilliance of the song itself may be lost to the delicate, the nervous, or residents of Portland.

White Fang – Portland Sucks

What specifically drives White Fang to hate Portland so much is open to debate, or at least masked by layers and layers of EQ’d fuzz, and so it should be. Not knowing is always part of the fun.

We Came To Destroy You burdens itself with intent, and over-delivers. Free-wheeling, thunderous, and aggressive to the point of leering, it’s a song that takes no prisoners – but never meant to in the first place.

An aural sock to the jaw and a poke in the eye, White Fangs‘s songs are drenched in sweat, wide-eyed optimism and teenage belligerence. You know, like a real rock band’s songs should be. Brilliantly noisy, and noisily brilliant.

>Today’s New Band – Ace Bushy Striptease

For someone who specialises in listening to new music, it turns out I don’t know very much about, er, new music. Example: it took me this long to realise that MGMT are American, and not French as I’d assumed. I initially thought I was confusing them French bands like Justice, or MSTRKRFT, until reading that MSTRKRFT are Canadian, which just confirms that I’m an idiot who knows nothing.

I suppose the knowledge of nationality helps further mentally establish a band’s sound – Daft Punk couldn’t really be any other nationality than French, just as Nickleback couldn’t be any more rootin’ tootin’ American if they tried. Wait, they’re Canadian too. Crap.

Today’s New Band are from Birmingham, UK. I’ve double-checked, and that’s definitely correct. So, if my half-formed theory is right, do Ace Bushy Striptease sound British? Well, yes, I suppose so. But no more than they sound Mexican, Japanese or Slovakian. Theory abandoned.

Ace Bushy Striptease have one of the most, er… evocative names featured on ANBAD for a long time. A good name is all-important, and the band members must have known they were half-way to success when they came up with that one.

Luckily, they have the tunes to complete the equation. Iluvya would be a heartbreaking rejection song – “I don’t care what you say, I love ya anyway” – in any other hands, but here it becomes a fun, carefree blast.

Knockabout songs like Mervyn and Isaac Find A CD and the so crazy-it’s-crazy remix-magedddon that is Ace Bushy Exceedddrrrr show Ace Bushy Striptease to be a band that don’t take themselves too seriously. This is an admirable trait, but one that could become grating if it wasn’t tempered with occasional glimpses of substance.

This they do in Heartbreaks In The Snow – an actually affecting song. It’s a delight; a sad, lonely, cold and sweet song. Ace Bushy Striptease are a band brimming with youth, fun coming out of their eyeballs and an ear for a great tune. Expect great things – listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Extradition Order

Everyone loves demo tapes. Ask any indie wannabe in any indie hang-out what they’re doing, and they’ll tell you, either excitedly or haughtily, about the demo they’re recording with such-and-such local producer you’ve never heard of, but get the feeling you ought to have.

The phrase ‘demo tapes’ itself has so much indie-cool cachet that having one is almost better than an actual album. In truth, most demo tapes are crud: the sound grim, the songs ropey, enthusiasm overtaking craft. And yet, The PixiesCome On Pilgrim is a series of demos off a C90 tape. The demo world is fraught with such confusion.

Today’s New Band, Extradition Order, have some of the most impressive demos this writer has heard for a while. In these tapes, the songs themselves are at the fore, and the time and effort put into writing them is clear.

Take Matches Meet Petrol – a rock song without a guitar shoved right under your nose; a song where jittering drums, rhythms and bottle-tapping take precedence; a song that excels, screaming, in its self-constructed arena of mania and threat. It’s as thrilling a song as you’ll have heard all week.

Or take Laura In The Winter, flooded with gothic (note: not ‘Goth’) melodrama and strange lust, the sheer attentiveness of which shows Extradition Order to be a band with their eyes fixed firmly on bigger and better things.

The Come On Pilgrim demo was released as it was, because label bosses were worried that rerecording them would detract from their impact and power. Extradition Order might well ponder the same concerns. Their demos are good. A great way to end the week – Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – The Humms

>Do you wish you’d formed a band? Do you regret that you didn’t? I sometimes wonder, and run through all the excuses – I didn’t know anyone to club together with, I didn’t play the guitar well enough, I was too shy. The truth is more prosaic: the desire just wasn’t there enough.

There’s always been a nagging suspicion that, while being a rock star probably has its perks, an element of boredom might set at some point. You’re midway through a tour, and you’re playing that drab B-side that’s in the set as filler, or because the drummer really wanted to play it, or because the bassist wrote it and wants a slice of the action – and all you really want to do is be in the half-empty audience yourself, watching, admiring. I don’t know – performing is nearly always better than spectating, isn’t it?

Isn’t it? By the sounds of Today’s New Band, The Humms, it’s about a million times better than anything, ever. They’re in thrall to the blitz-to-the-senses that is performing songs like LSD Is Evil, a juddering, quivering mass of foot-stomping excess. Vocals wrench, howl and crackle; guitars strangle nuance and delicacy and replace them with a straight-to-the-point BZZZZZ.

Brown Haired Devil takes a starting point you’ve heard before – and a similar end point too – but winsomely wanders it’s own route in between, all the time assaulting your ears with tinny treble and distortion.

The Humms punch and brawl and get physically violent with Rock ‘n’ Roll. They might win. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Rebecca Closure

>I’ve just spent a weekend moving out of my flat, lugging boxes and boxes of crap into a van, out of a van, and then into a storage unit. Moving house really is the best way to convince yourself that the vast majority your possessions are simply junk. After staggering under the weight of the ridiculously heavy boxes of CDs, I’m starting to think that the good stuff is a bit pointless too.

Still, I survived the horrors of the event – just – but if you’d like a snapshot of my ‘delicate’ mental state at the peak of the move, plug into Today’s New Band, Rebecca Closure and feel those synapses crackle and buzz.

And so, La La La, a manic, lupine howl of craziness, simultaneously terrifies and thrills with the sheer lunatic rush of noise. It’s a fabulously off-beat, rotten mix. 40,000 is relentless; rushing past and distorting the perceptions of all who listen. The brilliantly in-yer-face Cunt Star is actually more provocative and aggressive than you’d have guessed.

Wild, daft, and brilliant, Rebecca Closure is perfect for rebooting a fried mind. The music of exciting nightmares. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – The Wendy Darlings

>A quick glance at the charts is enough to confirm the feeling that most pop music is awful. Over-hyped nonentity Lady Gaga is number one, with her entirely forgettable half-effort Poker Face. Here it is, if you can stand another lumpen slab of generic electro-pop sung by a Christina Aguilera tribute act.

25 years ago, Black Lace also hit number one with Agadoo, which is almost universally recognised as the worst song of all time. I simply insist that you listen to it if you’ve never heard it before. Here’s the interesting bit though: as will-sappingly dreadful as Agadoo is, it’s still being played at school discos and weddings, and will be forever.

Poker Face will be forgotten by this time next week. Perhaps bad pop can be enjoyed after all. It just has to inhabit a specific world of dreadfulness. Today’s New Band, The Wendy Darlings, aren’t dreadful, are entirely enjoyable, and as such, must now console themselves, as they can never be a novelty pop band.

In songs like Eins Zwei, we quickly learn that The Wendy Darlings are carefree but careful – a slender distinction. Their songs buzz with happiness; entirely un-po-faced and fun. But My Friend Ray has that mid-90’s tuneful naivety about it which suggests they know their way around a melody and aren’t afraid to get serious about the important stuff.

Predictably, Enormous Pop is aptly named and as joyful as a kids’ birthday party around the time mum brings out the jelly and ice cream.

So, the dirty truth is that Agadoo is entirely preferable to the majority of pop music. The Wendy Darlings are entirely preferable to the majority of yelpy, poppy rock, due to the absence of poseur-seriousness and the pushing of fun to the fore. They’re a blast, and neither push pineapples nor grind coffee. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – My Tiger My Timing PLUS! "I wanna be a d-o-o-o-g"


When I was in my mid-teens, oily of skin and squeaky of voice, I listened to The Stone Roses’ eponymous debut album twice a day, every day for about a year. How did this frightening set of circumstances come about?

Well, a young world-view, musical or otherwise, was mainly to blame. This meant that some bands of that time (Pavement et al) were a lot lower on the radar than they should have been, and bands from the near past (Joy Division and friends) may as well have been, to my teenage ears, my grandparent’s very choicest of 78″ acetate discs.

At that age you seem to get – no, actually, actively, subconsciously want to get – amorously attached to one band. Teens want a band that means something to them and them alone, regardless of how many copies of their favourite album have been sold, and so listen religiously, looking for and finding extra meaning that fair weather fans have missed.
I migrated from The Stone Roses after a while. Actually, I can pinpoint the moment of the shattering realisation that they weren’t that good after all to the day when my six-year old sister asked me why, on the first track, ‘the man is singing, “I wanna be a dog”?’
Clinging onto one band is not a bad thing per se, but it does legitimise the careers of awful bands who scraped the bottom of the rock barrel a long time ago. There is a reason why Ocean Colour Scene are still touring.

This is also the reason why listening to Today’s New Band, My Tiger My Timing, is the right thing to do. They’re a band that have found how to be arty and not jarring – one of rock’s holy grails. Thus, the least we can do is point our ears in their direction.

This Is Not The Fire quickly unfolds into one of the jerkiest, warmest pop songs of its unusual ilk this side of Born Under Punches by Talking Heads. It rambles freely in its self-imposed sonic limitations, eager to seek out every cranny of possibility. Conversation Starter, full of gentle punches of pulsating sounds, steely guitar shimmers and careful chanting, dreams of shiny space-pop and aims high enough to get there.

My Tiger My Timing are an example of a band Doing The Right Thing. Not only are they NEW! in spirit and sound, but have delicacy, urgency and the desire to make sounds that you haven’t quite heard before. Ace! Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Feral Children PLUS! Smooth, Smooth Jazz

>Remember Grunge? The rat-tailed-wooly-jumpers-and-miserablism rock behemoth crawled from nowhere in the early 90s and then disappeared almost as quickly in a miasma of introspection, shotgun smoke and underwhelming MOR rock tarted up as a quasi-Nirvana dirge. Perhaps the oddest thing of all was that this scene grew up, almost by mistake, around a city as seemingly unassuming as Seattle.

The truth is that Seattle has an odd knack for throwing up great new music – look at the bands that have appeared on Sub-Pop over the years for proof. However, for every Sleater-Kinney and Modest Mouse, there’s a Kenny G (shudder) or P.U.S.A. So sighs of relief all round, bbecause Today’s New Band, Feral Children, have both feet firmly planted in the former camp of inventive, quirky rock, and there’s not a lick of smooth, smooth jazz to be heard anywhere.

Their song Zyghost is remarkably bouncy, nestling cozily between mania, insanity and Johnny Marr‘s songbook. Simple and obscure at the same time, it’s touching, bold and as good a song as you’ll hear for ages. A bit like how Razorlight would sound if they were all the things they’re not: inventive, daring and exciting.

Spy Glass House is the sound of Feral Children grabbing you with a sweaty hand, and tugging you crazily through a graveyard on Hallowe’en to a gig performed by the recently arisen evil dead. It gradually, imperceptibly creeps further into a fog of skin-crawling uneasiness, until the sound of screaming stops you in your tracks.
Feral Children are about as far removed from the slick unpleasantness of, say, U2, and yet there’s an accessibility that you rarely find in any band, anywhere. Their songs shoot around wildly, inventively and boisterously whilst keeping their laser-guided focus on tightly-honed rock.

More yelpy, more frantic and more aware of the life-giving power of a great rock song than 99% of all other bands – it’d be a minor crime if you missed out on them. Listen here!

P.S. Don’t forget the ANBAD eBook – it’s got lots of pictures, so you can cut it up and use it as wrapping paper when you’ve finished reading it. Or before, your call.

>Strippers, Lust, Pigeons and Today’s New Band – Hot Like Curry

>I got eyed up by two strippers yesterday, as I was walking through Chinatown. I say ‘eyed up’ – what I mean is that they broke off from their cigarette break out side the strip club, performed that glance-at-your-face-then-shoes-then-face-again routine and carried on talking about thongs or lubricant or whatever it is strippers chat about.

I suppose the reaction to their casting an eye over me was fairly non-descript – there were no deep, longing sighs or anything, but I like to think that the conversation was then all about how truly dreamy it would be if someone like me would lustily tuck ten pound notes into their garters instead of sleazy businessmen.

Walking away, not sure if I felt elated or mildly underwhelmed, it occurred to me that they may well have been chatting about Quantum String Theory, for all I knew. Perhaps they were the kind of strippers from the movies that are only doing it to pay their university fees, and actually have very incisive views on Foucault‘s Post-Structuralist ideals. People aren’t who you might assume them to be.

Take Today’s New Band, Hot Like Curry. They say that they ‘can’t play their own instruments’ (not strictly true) and are ‘a gimmick’ (possibly strictly true). They have one song, Pigeon. “You’re so seedy – we love it really,” they squeal. It’s a great, pocket-sized, buzzsaw song that’s worthy of two minutes of anyone’s time, and then another two minutes. Hot Like Curry have only been in existence for about as long as it’s taken me to type this, which frankly, is reason enough to feature them on ANBAD.

Hot Like Curry sound like a roomful of teenage girls having a ton o’ fun with the twin powers of guitars and yelping, but who knows, they could be an offshoot from a Women’s Institute music project, or teenage boys with very high voices. It could have been those two strippers. Who cares, it’s about as new and fun as any song you’ll hear for, like, ages – so listen to it here!