>Turncoat, And Britpop Rears It’s Ugly, Pretty Head

One day, 90’s Indie music is going to be rediscovered by a new and enthusiastic set of youthful scavengers, and we’ll be plunged back into a world of Union Jack guitars, grand, empty choruses and second albums with lots of orchestration.

For now, the memory of Britpop’s eventual excesses is still too raw, and any hint of a Britpop re-imagining is accompanied by fearful shudders and nightmares of Kula Shaker reunions.

But there are shoots of 90’s endeavour emerging – and just look at Turncoat‘s 90’s-scented list of influences. Ride, Gene, and Trashcan Sinatras are all present, and for them to be there is somehow mildly daring.

Brighton Blanks isn’t Britpop. Let’s be clear about this. But is there a hint of that wide-eyed belief of the scrappy Indie bands who were good Britpop in there? And look: the song is a good one too. Power chords, ooh-ooh backing vocals, an actual lead guitar – it’s a large step away from the Twee Indie Pop that’s cluttered our lives for a while.

Turncoat – Brighton Blanks

Despite all its associated horrors, the ebullience of Britpop was alluring at the time, and still is now. If Turncoat lead the charge for one more splash in Britpop’s murky waters, it wouldn’t hurt… would it?

>Lost Knives – Or, How To Be Superceded By The Lure Of A Kebab

This post ought to have featured last week, when Manchester’s In The City New Music Conference was relevant, current and new. I wanted to see Lost Knives quite badly, but was ‘held up watching another band’.

A quick glance at the schedule would reveal that I was at the Dutch Uncles gig, but a delve into the truth would expose that I had holed up in a kebab shop and was shoving dubious spicy meat into my idiot face.

I wished I’d seen them, especially when, the next day, talk of their performance was a drizzle of positive chatter. My guilt was compounded when one the band then sent me an email asking if I’d seen them play.

So this review is part praise, part apology, and part admission of dumb servitude to a base need for cheap meat. Lost Knives are a good band, who will succeed regardless of any shabby chuntering on a new music blog.

If they do make it, it will have been their songs that drove them there. Tracks like Cold Morning are rumbustious enough to please the indie purists and to shake the rest from their slumber. A foot stomper in the very truest sense, Lost Knives throw big chord changes, clobbering drums and gritted-teeth vocals in, and get skyscraping rock in return.

Laden with end-of-world doom and shoot-to-the-moon ambition, it’s a song as wide-eyed as it is jittering with aggro. Lost Knives are less spicy, but more meaty than any amount of grilled, skewered meat. Praise indeed.

>Today’s New Band – Dirtblonde

>Is there anything wrong with simplicity? For anyone who considers Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band‘s complicated time signatures, endless multi-tracking and finger-wrecking chord changes as the pinnacle of human musical achievement, the answer would probably be ‘yes’.

The others who thing that The StoogesRaw Power is dumb fun done right would probably disagree, but they’d be too busy pogoing to even think about such complications. Today’s New Band are Dirtblonde, and they know the truth in unassailable Rock ‘N’ Roll Fact #1: a loud guitar is better than a quiet one.

The Hangman whistles and howls into your personal space, roughs you up and saunters off. “Yeah, I’m so wasted, and I’m sorry I ruined your life,” they offer by way of explanation, in the song of a similar name.

Listening to Call It Art, it occurred to me that I could barely remember the last time I heard a song where a chunky guitar and vocals were the only sounds to trouble the listener. No synth washes, drum machines or bleeps to fill the space, no lush engineering tricks, nothing other than tape hiss and a song. In a time when even the newest, greenest bands equate good ‘production values’ with success, this is welcome respite indeed.

They’ve just played the South By South West Festival (sorry, ‘SXSW‘, for you super-cool types), if that matters to you. It shouldn’t, really. They have no Myspace page. I like that. Their songs can be downloaded – for free! – at their website here. I like that too. Listen to Dirtblonde and revel in simplicity itself.

>Today’s New Band – It’s A Dragon PLUS! Christmas Panic!

>What’s happening to A New Band A Day? New features and new writers? It’s almost as if more effort’s being put in all of a sudden or something. Well, a pre-Christmas frenzy has overcome us all in ANBAD Towers, that’s what. In an effort to forget that we haven’t bought a single Christmas present yet, at all, and-oh-crap-it’s-only-two-weeks-til-Christmas, we’re listening to more ace new bands than ever before. Not that that will be an acceptable excuse to our nearest and dearest on the 25th.

So before we start having spasms of anxiety, let’s cut to the chase: Today’s New Band are the jangly guitar pop-slingers It’s A Dragon, and, with an inevitability that is becoming almost terrifying, they’re from Sweden. I’m no scientist, but at a rough guess I’d say approximately 97% of the world’s jangly pop is made in Sweden at the moment. If Jangly Pop was worth as much as oil, it’d be Swedish record exec bosses instead of Sheiks that would be splashing obscene sums on Premiership football clubs.

It’s A Dragon, or Mats as he’s know to his mother, has rustled up a bunch of sunny love songs that hit the ground running and scamper towards the setting sun, possibly shedding clothes with excitement on the way. Onwards and Upwards is so stupendously upbeat, with insistent horns and twanging guitars, that tapping your feet or drumming pens against your keyboard is practically a formality.

Everything Reminds Me Of You, like all of his songs, is characterised by its simplicity. It’s about a girl, love and rejection, like most pop love-songs; musically, he doesn’t try to squeeze in anything that doesn’t need to be there. This streamlining just makes it easier for the song to weedle its way into your brain, via your heart, and stay there.

It’s a Dragon‘s songs are without hype, faux-emotional depth or forced cool. Just simple, sweet songs; good, pure fun. They’re from a man who knows his way around a tune and can craft them effortlessly. Why is that? ANECDOTE ALERT

On his Myspace page, Mats says, “When I was 12 I nicked a tape from a friends big sister. On the A-side was the Smiths‘ “Strangeways Here We Come” and on the B-side, The Cure‘s “Head On The Door”.” That’s a fortuitous start to your musical life. He’s now creating beautiful pop songs.

My first tape, when I was 5, was Eliminator by ZZ Top. I now have a 3-foot long beard. Go figure. But first, listen to It’s a Dragon, right here!

>Today’s New Band – Play People

>There’s something odd about Today’s New Band, Play People, that has proven difficult to quite pin down. They sound so surprisingly polished and confident for a virtually unknown band that I wondered initially if I’d missed a class in the Rock ‘n’ Pop 101 course that I took all those years ago, and they had just passed me by.

Their songs shine and glisten. Oh What A Life is weary and reflective, yet chimes and rings lushly throughout. Just Don’t is punctuated with a Morse-code stab, and is a perfect example of how a good chord change can loosen the most knotted muscles in your neck as your brain is distracted by the sheer luxury of sound.

Something about Play People’s songs remind me of The Boo Radleys’ less frantic moments, which is high praise, I suppose. Delicate, coy and lovely, their songs are packed with naive charm. They’re a bit like a quick glimpse inside a shy teenage boy’s head, except without being bombarded with thousands of guiltily memorised images of Page 3 Lovely “Keeley, 22, from Bromley”.

Even without her considerable charms (note to self – must stop using dreadful Sun-style puns right away) to tempt you, Play People are an understated example of lovely songcraft – as un-rock ‘n’ roll as that sounds – and as such should be heard by more people, so check out their tunes here!

P.S. – Happy 18th Birthday to ANBAD’s now not-so-little sister Phoebe!