Welcome to ANBAD, which celebrated ten years online in April 2018, and is now “resting.” (I’m still jabbering on about music on my radio show and discussing new bands like, oh, I dunno, The Chats, on Twitter.)
However, ANBAD also has over 1200 posts featuring about 1500 artists. Most are buried deeeeep in the blog, rarely seen by human eyes. This seemed a bit unfair, so I randomised the posts and the ones you see below are yanked arbitrarily from the archive for you to explore.
As with anything this old on the internet, some music plugins, hyperlinks, images, formatting – and, frankly, the writing itself – is broken. But even I will begrudgingly admit that randomly looking at ten years of once-new bands is a fascinating glimpse into a very specific time capsule.
I’m as surprised as anyone that this ridiculous and utterly niche music blog has stumbled around online for a decade, surviving all of my attempts to break it, render it defunct, or let it wither on the vine. So scroll down and read on – and maybe you’ll find some long-forgotten band from 2009 that you’ll love.
But a delve into their amazing back catalogue of releases indicates that the hit ratio they have managed so far will continue for a long time, possibly beyond merely mortal lifespans.
Thus we can stop worrying about an impending (Bad) Bad Panda-pocalypse and continue filling our boots with glorious low-end sunshine-songs like Andrea‘s Work The Middle (Kodak to Graph Rmx).
As The Kids veer further away from guitars and more towards laptops and samplers, a strange thing is unfolding before our very eyes: we’re witnessing the shunning of old rock posturing, and the embracing of sonic delicacy.
So Work The Middle is, despite its of-the-moment beats and bass wobbles, a delicate and thoughtful song, more in tune with the brain and the groin rather than the sneer and the fist.
Songs like Andrea‘s are the future: maybe not sonically, but in intent. But right now, this is just perfect. An almost sublime song.
I don’t usually listen to anonymous tip-offs. This stems from a vague distrust of a music industry that is – let’s see – idiosyncratic at best.
In this instance, I know nothing about No Ceremony whatsoever.
My hunch is that they’re from Manchester, but they could reside in Magaluf for all I know. They might not be a ‘they’ at all.
The main, bowel-churning concern in these situations is that such songs are actually a marketing trick by a hideously uncool pop artist who will later reveal their true selves with a flourish of, “A-ha! You liked that, so why don’t you like my usual drab, soul-destroying MOR Rock?!”
What I’m trying to say is: brace yourselves – this could be a Keane side-project.
In the last few exciting World Cup-themed editions of the Midweek Mixtape, the ANBAD Donkey has mocked, variously, zany no-catch goalkeeper Rob Green, wacky no-goals grump Wayne Rooney, and, inevitably, Carlos Valderrama’s hair.
This week, the donkey has an even easier job: he can simply use his natural form to adequately describe England’s performance against Germany. And so, with the usual tortuously tenuous connections to recent media events absent, we can just get on with this week’s mixtape:
FIRST! Josephinewas described, rather self-grandly, by her PR people as a protegé. She seems more like a prodigy to me. A subtle but important difference – one is guided by others; the other shoots off ahead – alone, ambitious, precocious.
I don’t usually bite when someone offers me a big, old fashioned love song. My heart is far too black and dusty. But Josephine has a rare, lovely, woman‘s voice: not faux-soul bullshit like Duffy, not patronising hysterical-female crud like Florence Welch. Instead her voice is classic, clean, controlled and gorgeous. What a find. And from Manchester, too. So enjoy her soulful songs while you can, before they’re replaced by paeans to rain and gloom. Brilliant.
SECOND! Cerulean Crayons Mmm, crayons. A newly opened tin of pencil crayons is pretty much my favourite sight and smell in the world. Well, after this, anyway. Soft and calm, dense and flighty: if you like your music unfocussed and dreamy, Cerulean crayons are your best bet in this mixtape, mister.
THIRD! Burn Before Reading? Those crazy guys! How is that going to work? Still, it’s not for me to worry about the literary quirks of a bunch that make music that screams an inside-out knowledge of how rock songs should work: it doesn’t mean that you will necessarily like them, but plenty will, and that’s the point. If you are a band that pleases everyone, then – SURPRISE! – you are actually Coldplay; and if you are Coldplay, your definition of ‘everyone’ equates to ‘middle aged Guardian readers.’ So by virtue of a a few power-pop/rock/scuzz songs and a desire not to be Coldplay,BBR are keeping the spirit of rock alive. Easy.
FOURTH! Little Chestnuts – the Italian music scene continues to surprise me, but perhaps that’s because I know so little about it. However, if Little Chestnuts came from Hoxton in London as opposed to the beautiful town of Genova, then I’m fairly sure that zippy, hooky and urgent songs like Nice Crash would have put them on the front of the NME by now. Read into that what you will – but the point is that Little Chestnuts are a good band.
I often make a song and dance over the idea that live is not – as opposed to the notion drilled into us at every conceivable opportunity – the be-all-and-end-all. There are a raft of reasons to treasure recorded music and support it as much as supporting artists in the flesh, most of which I will not bore you with here.
My main concern though, is this: Boards Of Canada probably couldn’t exist or begin to exist today.
Their record-centric approach (they played ‘live’ only a handful of times) allowed them to eke out an existence that they probably couldn’t attain in the post sales-slump world.
So I don’t hate live music in any way – but I do often try and offer a counterpoint to it. The performance is not everything. Except, of course, when it is.
Take T. E. Yates – his music sounds wonderful when heard in its recorded form (NB: now is a good time to click the player below), but soars and overwhelms the listener with nuance and subtlety in the flesh. I saw him last night and was charmed to bits.
T. E. Yates is a winning presence; engaging to the point of downright excellence, and his band is crammed with glistening talent. The audience was rapt and happy. His music is careful, cunning and luxurious in the same way that tweed is.
As a side issue, it is agonising to hear ‘folk’ music like this – music that deals with life now, or conjures up easily relatable stories – sidelined under a tranche of Mumford-flavoured waistcoat-folk-by-numbers. T. E. Yates, and his support last night, Louis Barabbas and Mikey Kenney of Ottersgear – are the real deal.
We’re entering a time where technology and understanding have allowed music to coil itself up into ever-increasing folds of complexity in a way that would have made the 60’s and 70’s most excessive proprietors of psychedelia green (or purple, or orange) with envy.
Even the simplest bedroom-recorded song is stuffed with layer upon layer of sounds filling every nook and cranny. Listening to a new band today is like staring into an endless void of Mantlebrot sets, and it can be exhausting – or at least psychologically demanding.
Spectral Park have embraced the options that technology has brought, but where others have got lost in the layers, they have successfully created songs that swirl and loop with the colour and motion of a kite in a tornado.
L’appel du Vide means “call of the void” – of course – and this neatly sums up not only this song’s appeal, but all of pop music: the endless disposability and the desire to keep on jumping into more blind alleyways in search of another dose.
The Beatles, by the way, recorded Revolver on a four-track tape recorder. It’s always worth remembering that. It’s also worth remembering that there are a thousand ways to skin the pop-song cat – and Spectral Park have their way sussed.
Multi-coloured, multi-faceted songs from the Multiverse. Great.
The more emails that I receive from Eager New Bands, the more I’m convinced that they have all signed up to some sort of vast global conspiracy.
So, don your silver-foil hats and lend me your ear for a second. This conspiracy isn’t one that will bring down governments, but it would explain a lot, given the grubby environs of the new music world.
My suspicions were aroused after hearing the umpteenth consecutive display of low-key, moody, noise-washes from a mysteriously anonymous band.
There seemed to be three realistic interpretations to explain their appearance: that it was all just a big coincidence (and as all conspiracy nuts know, they just don’t happen); that it was all produced by one incredibly prolific, glum guy; or that they had all clubbed together and were promoting their similarly understated music simultaneously.
Little Kid were the best of the bunch, possibly because The Train Behind My House actually manages to incorporate dribbles of lovely positive noise to clutter the gaps between moody introspection.
For a song that begins and ends with ominous clanking and never really shakes off the feeling that doom is only moments away, a surprisingly light and airy feel dominates The Train Behind My House. It’s a slight song, bruised but defiant; dragging itself to its feet for one more round.
Many artists of Little Kids‘ ilk can’t muster the quality songs needed to hurry their songs along, as they’re too busy staring at their navels to look at their instruments. Little Kid is different because he’s recognised the need for soaring peaks amongst the deep troughs in his music.
Just because you’re not paranoid, it doesn’t mean that the gloomy indie musicians aren’t after your deep, world-weary sighs. Little Kid is watching you. And it’s quite comforting, really.
Quitting Myspace seems as pointless as joining Myspace. Like most people, I’ve hated Myspace from day one, for all the same reasons everyone always lists – it’s ugly, it breaks, the music streaming is specifically designed to make you angrily pound your head into the keyboard, etc.
The counter argument doesn’t really need mentioning. Myspace, despite the infinitely more useful Bandcamp and Soundcloud, is still the de facto music source for listening to new bands. Maybe it’s a quirk of social acceptance that something ugly and useless is at the top of the pile. Perhaps we should gain hope from this, rather than hatred.
Oh, and every band that ever emails me asking for a review always has a Myspace link. Just like the one WE // ARE // ANIMAL sent me, which meant I discovered Black Magic, a song that slips quietly away from their usually bracing rock bluster by way of twitchy, spasmodic guitars and a vague air of social disconnection.
WE // ARE // ANIMAL, just like every other band for the last 30 years, want to rock like Thin Lizzy, but need to find another way of doing it, lest they are treated as yesterday’s men. Their chosen method of alchemical differentiation is to imbue their songs with a feeling of alienation and of removal.
This may possibly related to their geographical isolation – they hail from the hills of Wales – or it may not. Either way, they use it as a means to rock. This is as good a reason as any. Great.
So by now, we’re probably lopping off toes due to either trenchfoot or frostbite, or both. But we’ll have seen some great bands, without doubt. We also might be “drinkin’ thru the pain,” a bit like I fancy Lynyrd Skynryd would do. But without also getting high on crack and crashing a plane.
But you, the dry, happy, non-drenched reader needs new bands. So here’s the BEST OF A NEW BAND A DAY, all for you to catch up on the best bands, noise makers and crazies we’ve had on A.N.B.A.D.! Great times.
I love Spotify. If you like listening to music, I know that you love Spotify too.
Because what is there not to love? And I do mean love – I can vividly recall the dizzying, bewildering, heart-racing feelings when I first downloaded it a few years ago, and lots days discovering and rediscovering amazing music.
I became Spotify’s loudest, most rabid, most insistent acolyte, forcing family and friends to download it. (I still recommend you do, by the way)
Try it yourself – just say to your nearest and dearest, “Imagine your iTunes collection suddenly bloats and distends to include almost all music, ever,” and watch as their eyes widen, sold instantly on the idea.
So who couldn’t love Spotify? Well, maybe the artists who supply it with ‘content’. Murmurings of discontent have been slipping from between artists’ lips for a while now – grumblings about paltry payouts, mainly. A few labels have voted with their feet, and pulled their music from the service.
What is the deal with Spotify’s payment system? On one hand, Spotify says it has “driven” a not-inconsiderable $150 Million out to artists. On the other, Jon Hopkins, from the excellent King Creosote, says he got £8 for 90,000 plays.
So is Jon right to be aggrieved? Well, I’m not an artist. I’m a consumer – a paying Spotify user who considers £5 a month a tiny amount to pay for so much music. Hey, I’m listening to Spotify as I write this (Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life, if you must know)
I can see why Jon’s annoyed. £8 seems like the wrong kind of tiny amount for music – from the point of view of the artist. But is there more to it than that?
If, as Jon says, BBC Radio 1 pay about £50 per play, Spotify certainly does appear miserly. But think about these numbers and how our perception of a ‘play’ fits into them.
90,000 plays on Spotify doesn’t equate to 90,000 people hearing the song once. Their are people, like me, who will hammer an individual song 20 times in a row if they’re in an obsessive mood, and this behaviour distorts the figure instantly.
One play on Spotify doesn’t mean the listener likes the song, or even listens to it. What if one of those ‘plays’ is a person idly pointing an ear towards a song for ten seconds, pulling a face, and skipping on to another? Should the amount paid to the artist factor in those people, these occurances?
Then consider this: each Radio 1 play will reach a lot more than, say, 90,000 listeners – it’ll be heard by hundreds of thousands at least, and many millions if it’s on the bigger shows.
Does each of these listeners hearing the song once on the radio equate to a “play”? If so, a £50 payment for having your song played to three million people doesn’t seem such a great deal.
In the end, it all boils down to control: the Spotify users control what they listen to – and the artist can decide whether they want their music to appear on there or not.
But at least there is control: would artists like Jon prefer it if the supply of their music was regulated – albeit in exchange for merely beer money – or that their music was downloaded via a torrent, and any semblance of artist control lost forever?
And, as the ever-perceptive Sean Adams from Drowned In Sound pointed out:
I advise new bands to put music on Spotify if possible, not so much for the money, but purely for the fact that one of Spotify’s zillions of listeners might find you, become a fan, and then support you by attending gigs, buying merchandise, and coquettishly hassling you to come back stage and share your rider.
Listeners (like me) used to hate paying £15 for just one CD a decade ago, and although record sales could actually generate income then, the artists didn’t make a huge amount, either.
So now the artist gets screwed directly, as opposed to via a label – but now the consumer now thinks they’re getting a fairer deal. Is this right? Probably not, but what are the viable alternatives right now?
I feel for Jon. £8 for 90,000 plays doesn’t seem right. But then, if Spotify didn’t exist, 90,000 plays of your song might not have taken place.
Being angry with Spotify is probably not the answer. Spotify is a reflection of the times and of how people have decided to consume music now.
In a period where a heavy, grey cloud looms large over all music, is it better to look for a silver lining – regardless of how thinly beaten that lining is – or to stand your ground and rage against the status quo?
Ultimately, it’s for us – because we’re all consumers – to decide how this pans out. And for now, the vast majority of us like our music as close to free as we can get it.