Gallops – Doubling Back, Burrowing Down

I went to a whisky tasting festival over the weekend. I arrived as a whisky novice and left as a whisky receptacle. I learnt a lot about whisky – mainly that I don’t want to drink whisky again for a while.

It turns out that too much of a good thing can sometimes be detrimental to one’s health. Who would have thought? Not Gallops, at least, who find joy in cramming as many different sounds into one song as they can.

Gallops – Sonderhof by ITCManchester

There is always a lingering feeling that when a band’s songs leap around, it’s an act of stylistic-device-hopping to cover other more important deficiencies – but Gallops prove to be the exception.

Songs like Sonderhof positively revel in musical experimentation and foraging; doubling back, burrowing down and seeking new angles to attack the song from within. As such, none of their exploration is for its own sake, rather, it becomes a raison d’etre, providing the songs with their own jagged structure.

The result is a song that stands on its own merits as a great song, but also one in which the listener can get lost over and over again, marvelling as Gallops fit more experimentalism into one song as most bands manage over a whole career. Excellent.

NB: Eagle-eyed readers will note that Gallops have appeared, albeit briefly, on ANBAD before: I rarely re-cover old ground, but felt they merited it in the circumstances.

Gallops are appearing at In The City on Wednesday 13th October

The Shondes and The Descent Into Middle Age

I can’t even remember how I discovered today’s new band. I will tentatively claim that I received an email from a rapt fan about them, but frankly it could have been from anyone via any medium. It could have been a psychic visitation for all I know.

I’m going to blame old age for forgetting. The truth – that I’m too disorganised to really remember – is the greater of the two evils.

This forgetfulness may well signal of the Beginning Of The End, the descent into premature Middle Age that I’ve always feared. Hey ho. When I start pootling in a potting shed, then I’ll know the transformation is complete.

Fortunately, The Shondes – the band that has unwittingly initiated all these fears – also manage to assuage much of the damage with songs that are morose and elating in equal measure.

The Shondes // Make It Beautiful

Make It Beautiful, jumping between stylistic flavours as if on a musical trampoline, is a skewed and folksy ode to pleasure and – yes – beauty. At times it threatens to shuffle down blind alleys – an almost breakbeat drum roll appearing here, a guitar crunch slipping in there – and it’s all part of the song’s charm.

This genre-forgetfulness is the song’s strength, lifting it to exciting and charming heights. And whilst I consider that commendable in many artistic ways, it’s mainly just pleasing to find out that such memory loss might actually turn out to be useful. Phew.

Moscow Youth Cult; Poly-this, Poly-that, Poly-Want-A-Cracker?

I’d love to be a polyorchid. Wait – I mean polymath. A polyorchid is a totally different thing entirely, though perhaps both involve having a lot of balls.

Some bands are muso-polymathic, producing all sorts of sounds without, apparently, effort or complication. They zip hither and thither, tweaking this genre and that noise, producing something new, something old, and something in between. Think of these bands as the Anti-Oasis.

Moscow Youth Cult make all sorts of music –  here, a fun-to-the-max throwaway Mario Kart Koopa beach level-esque hula-pop, there a mentalist electro stomper – but inevitably, ANBAD will choose to focus on the most fun and stupid of them all: the Commodore 64 bleep-fest.

8-Bit City, like all 8-bit songs, plays it determinedly for laughs. Even if you have no recollection of 80’s video games, who could fail to smile at the ‘BLOOOOOOOOOO’ noises, the demented twittering and the crackly bass-substitute noises?

The inherent beauty of 8-Bit music is that it just doesn’t matter. By adhering to such rigid and daft boundaries, all emotional possibility except FUNNNN!!!!! are erased in a swathe of candy-floss-coloured glee.

Moscow Youth Cult knows this – hell, when it comes to musical styles, they know their onions – and they run with the frantic happiness induced by one too many listens to Lust For Life. Huzzah!

The Whatevers; Peeking Into Lives And An Orgy Of Links

Although ANBAD is, to all intents and purposes, Just Another Music Blog, it doesn’t really behave like one.

I mean, yes, it has all the attributes of a blog that made the format so refreshingly de jour back in 2003, yet doesn’t do all the backlinking, cross-posting promotion and inter-blog link-exchanging that blogs are supposed to do. Perhaps if it did, I’d spend more time smoking cigars on Mediterranean yachts full of Page 3 girls funded from the proceeds. Still.

So, in a belated effort, today’s post is stuffed to the gills with links and what-have-you. And here’s possibly the first-ever, what-ever, link to another blog article: an astonishingly funny clip of ridiculous Scottish chart-ditherers Bay City Rollers playing to crowd of ‘life-end citizens’.

And so to business. The Whatevers are fully aware that there are lots of other bands called by the same name. But this one is so new that when I first heard the below song yesterday, it had only received one lonely play on their Myspazz page.

The Whatevers // Rhapsody In Blue Jeans

The Whatevers pretty much encapsulate exactly what it is I love about new bands so much – the half-clumsy recordings, the awkward gestures, the sweet – so sweet – and tentative lyrics.

This kind of bedroom pop is so delicious, so important and so touching because songs like this are a deliberate peek into the lives of people who might otherwise keep their eyes pointed towards the ground as they scurry for the bus.

All of this might sound like damnation via the most faint of praise, but it’s all intended as the most sincere encouragement and adulation. And so, of all the links on the page, here’s the most fulfilling of all:

PS: OK, one more link. Well, two. Three. The wonderful and long-time ANBAD Faves Ace Bushy Striptease have got a wonderful long-player out, and I urge you to buy it for a paltry £3 here: One Final Link.

Nice Nice: Nice

Sometimes reviews of new bands write themselves: this is an occasion where the band have written it for you and then made it into their name as well.

So, Nice Nice. What more is there to add? A little more detail is probably required. Try this then: if Nice Nice are an enigma wrapped inside a puzzle, then I’m A Human Person is a solid silver sledgehammer wrapped around the back of your head.

Nice Nice // I’m A Human Person

There is also what you might euphemistically call a ‘companion piece’, You’re A Human Person, each of which successfully mirrors the other without sounding anything like it.

The effect is slightly mesmerising, like when you see someone in the street who looks just like you, and you only realise that you’ve stopped dead in your tracks when people start muttering obscenities.

Nice Nice are, indeed enigmatic: their sound varies so haphazardly you’d be forgiven for thinking several bands had released songs under one name as some sort of Situationist prank.

One quality remains throughout: the organic, burbling noise of origami-delicacy. Songs unfurl like plant shoots, and while some grow into raging carnivorous beasts, others are light-as-air and fine as silk. Nice Nice: Nice.

Django Django, and Hard Work, Hard Work

Hard work. It’s all about hard work. Repeat that mantra.

Don’t let Keith Richard’s fibs fool you. Perpetuating the myth that he dreamt up the riff for (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction might be his idea of fun, but it’s a cruel trick, and it’s misleading bands everywhere.

Make no mistake, the rise of the Stones, or any other band, hasn’t been down to dumb luck, buzzed dreams or cyphers from the other side. Ask any artist, in any ‘creative field’ and they’ll tell you the same.

It’s about gigging non-stop for audiences that barely care, contacting endless, heartless bloggers who might simply delete your email after only reading two sentences, and refinement, refinement, refinement.

An awkward truth but look: Django Django work their socks off. They gig here, there and everywhere; they write and record neat, chop-n-change songs; and they’re still unsigned.

Django Django // Wor

But just listen to Wor. Just listen to the rockabilly pop, just listen to the way the song builds, teases, gives-and-takes and finally bursts forth. You’re hearing the sound of focus and whittling. The sound of sweat, arguments and roadies misplacing Fuzzboxes.

The sound of temptation to quit and deciding to carry on. The sound of exhilaration when it all goes right, or at the least the promise thereof.

Django Django will make it. They have to. They deserve it.

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.

>Volcanoes: Five Great Bands, One Super Price!

Another day, another splash in the swimming pool of confusion, and all centred around one simple question: who are Volcanoes?

The trad-guitar-band that makes carefully crafted folky guitar jangles like The Room With The Red Door? The scratchy, horn-tinted, aggro-crunch band of Temple? Or the band that makes an entirely unexpected, possibly dubious, semi-rap-rock of Making Progress?

Rule #1 of ANBAD‘s puddled outlook on life is there’s no merit in consistency, and Volcanoes are certainly avid subscribers to this theory. Their attention spans must rival that of a gnat’s, and they’re all the better for it.

Temple is, at the very least, a fascinating, writhing, spasmodic riddle of a song, flitting here and there, gleefully trying new sounds and styles within a single song. It’s ADHD-rock and it’s a thrill-a-minute, literally.

Volcanoes – Temple

Then compare and contrast it with the gonzo rock of Trick of The Light. Then wonder about he band meetings when new songs are debuted. Then dare to imagine the agonies of compiling a coherent setlist.

Don’t believe the people who tell you to play it steady, keep it safe. Yes, you’ll probably get somewhere faster, but the ride will be duller. Volcanoes are having a blast. Go figure.

>Today’s New Band – The Witch and The Robot

Oh yes, I’ve been to Cumbria. For the uninitiated, it’s the very northern, remote part of England; full, as I remember, of natural beauty, rain and – in Barrow-in-Furness at least – very large and intimidating men. It’s also the home of the strange and brilliant band British Sea Power, whose album The Decline Of British Sea Power is an oft-overlooked classic.

Today’s New Band, The Witch And The Robot, are from the same green, lush part of the world and are championed by, indeed, British Sea Power. This is as suitable recommendation as any, and The Witch And The Robot don’t disappoint. The same air that gave BSP a crazed edge has blessed a second band with a similarly obtuse outlook on life.

The Best Free Show On Earth whistles one flute-loop over and over so many times that an entirely unexpected Orbital-esque feel blossoms out of the song’s lovely, Byrds-y, sun-soaked roots.

That song is shot with vanilla-flavoured normality in comparison to Sex Music (Beef On Wax), which is a song in several, absurd, contemplative parts. It starts here, then peers over there, and then is suddenly distracted by something else. You know how you’ve always longed for a song that combines safari parks, feline disaster, cod-funk and spoken-word pieces? Well, prepare to sleep easily again: you’ve found your perfect song.

Despite the cream-pie attacks at their gigs, The Witch And The Robot aren’t zany-kids-TV-pranks crazy, they’re just wildly inventive; free-association idea-forming as they play their old/new songs carefully and cleverly. They don’t deserve sympathy, or confusion, or apathy – just your full attention.

>Today’s New Band – Turquoise Cats

Sometimes there are bands on ANBAD that trample all over convention: ideas like song structure, composition and ooh, I don’t know, sound itself. In truth, these bands are my favourites, regardless of whether the results of their innovation are actually pleasant to listen to or not. It’s the daring and disregard for conventional wisdom that’s the thrill more than the listening experience itself.

For this divisive reason, I try to keep these bands to a minimum, in an attempt to avoid driving readers away in droves, but I allow myself the occasional moment of self-indulgence when it’s clear that a band is thoroughly loopy but still producing good music.

Thus: Today’s New Band, Turquoise Cats, defiantly odd producers of peculiar music. And a sense of humour too, if song titles like OMGLOLWTFBBQ are anything to go by. OMGLOLWTFBBQ trembles terrifically; then rises, menacing and angry, throbbing and flailing.

The Beastie Boys said that Hello Nasty was influenced by, amongst other things, Boggle, and maybe a similarly dice-based family game determined the outcome of Turquoise CatsYahtzee, a song that bubbles and burbles. Crazed clapping, musical boxes and demented clicking all find a home here, and whtfltpttrns/mgphrrstrs is, frankly, an exercise in summoning up eerie sounds, which force your skin to crawl confusedly.

Reviewing bands like Turquoise Cats isn’t easy because there’s so little that actually makes sense to go on. What this does mean though, is that the listener isn’t allowed any connection with the music other than those allowed by the music makers, and the devolution of power is a nice feeling. Listen here!