>Today’s New Band – Run DMT

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My friend Martin is also a friend of The Lines, a rather good band from the unfashionable West Midlands. A disproportionate number of Britain’s bands come from the West Midlands (Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath to name two), partly, I always assume, because being in a band is a good way to get out of there.

Martin recently joined the band on a road trip to play in a festival in Austria, and got to say things like, “I’m with the band,” to girls, pester Jarvis Cocker backstage and live like a rock star. He told me a number of stories that would scare your mother, all of which featured heavy drinking and an enjoyable lack of morals, cleanliness and social etiquette.

Such is the life of a hard-working rock band. I often wonder whether the characteristics of any given band is related to their behind-the-scenes behaviour. If this is true, then I worry for Today’s New Band, Run DMT, whose schizophrenic music is a jumble of wired creativity.

Run DMT don’t take music to bits as much as crazily stomp all over it. Songs like the pun-gasmically named Tequila Mockingbird are so newborn and rough that they sound as if they have been streamed directly from their creator’s mind. Though hardly consisting of any more than sound of a drumkit falling down the stairs, it is fascinating, wild and skewed.

Dramatics Mix (Fuck) is an Aphex twin B-side slowed down to a tenth of its normal speed, groaning, squealing and plucking tortuously, and then rebirthing itself over and over. Let It Load is a wild banjo shoot-out, and the title of the song Mad Weed, a slow, blindingly bright chill-shimmer, might hint to the source of such invention.

Run DMT are daring, imaginative and downright bizarre. Their songs sound like they were born after some sort of perverse musical DNA-splicing experiments, or if your iPod could separate individual sounds from a million songs and then shuffle-play ten of them at once. Listen – it’ll be an exhilarating brush with real creativity.

**Note: A worthy, wierd recipient of an ANBAD ‘Actual Brilliance’ tag.**

>Today’s New Band – Basketball

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When I was in France, while the Tour de France was snaking its sweaty, wild-eyed way through the countryside, my tent was pitched high on a hill, which in turn was overlooked by Mont Ventoux. It’s a huge, imposing lump of a mountain, undulating, steep and bereft of trees and other life near the summit. The penultimate stage of the Tour finished on the top of it, where presumably the riders fell straight off their bikes into a huge heap of cramping limbs and destroyed will.

In the next tent was a crazy Norwegian. Most Norwegians are slightly crazy, in a winsome and carefree way, and Thor – that was his name – was no different. He was visiting to see the tour and pootled off each day on his bicycle, returning looking as fresh as a daisy in the evening. Frankly, I wondered if he rode as far as the local bar, and spent the day sipping a Pastis or two, watching Le Tour on Eurosport.

At the end of the day when the cyclists passed through, he returned, puffing at bit as usual. ‘Did you see the Tour?’ I asked him. ‘Yes, yes, it was super nice,’ he replied. Then I asked him where he’d spectated. ‘Oh,’ he said with a sniff and a nod towards the vast mountain, ‘at the top of Ventoux.’

He’d cycled some 100Km, up the mega-hill, to catch the official riders finishing. ‘It got a bit cold up there,’ he said, ‘ so I found some newspapers and stuffed them under my shirt.’ Norwegians are crazy.

Bands that have a similar waft of lunacy about them are the ones worth listening to. They go the extra, mile without even realising. Take today’s New Band, Basketball. They say that they’re from Vancouver/Split/Barcelona. For a band that needs to rehearse, chat and you know, be a band, they aren’t making things easy for themselves.

That fresh lunacy slops freely all over their grubby, bouncy sound, hoovering up ideas and scrabbled bits of sound from here, there and everywhere, and spitting out an all-new, all-cracked hybrid. S.I.E.M.P.R.E gibbers, shudders and wobbles bassily, flipping from one sound to another, an exercise in orchestrated over-productiveness. It’s a thrilling soundsmash, the frequent changes of direction proving an exciting virtue, not a gimmick.

Journey To The End Of The Night incorporates the feel (but not the sound) of the currently fashionable-again Afrobeat feel – possibly by accident, such is Basketball’s free-wheeling direction. It’s no gutter-level stab for prescience, but is appropriately and deftly interpolated into a shimmering, bright and alive song.

Interweaving the sound of many cultures into one new sound is a practice fraught with po-faced, disaster-hued hazards. Basketball avoid this easily. They are a multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-faceted motley crew, who’ll tickle your fancy, and leave you bewildered by their cunning. A wild and unexpected treat. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Forest Fire

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While I was in Vigo, I ate a lot of Pulpo de Gallega. It’s the local dish, and is so simple, even a fingers-and-thumbs chef like me could serve it to friends and family without risking annual Christmas-time jibes about ‘that time you gave me diarrhoea/the most inedible food ever/amoebic dysentery‘. Here’s the first, and last, ANBAD recipe*:
  1. Get some octopus legs and cut them into suckery, weird-looking discs.
  2. Boil them with slices of potato.
  3. Put weird, suckery octuopus bits on top of potato.
  4. Sprinkle with paprika.
  5. Shove into idiot mouth.
See? So uncomplicated that it’s hard to believe it could even be considered a local delicacy. But it is, and it’s bowel-tremblingly delicious.
There’s a slightly agonising and obvious parallel to be drawn between the simplicity of Pulpo de Gallega and a good new band. Too many bands pollute songs with Keith-Moon drum fills or guitar noodling. Good bands don’t need frills or tarting-up. They are good because of their natural saltiness.
To draw this simile to an agonising close, Today’s New Band, Forest Fire, are a big cauldron pull of octo-potato tastiness. They write songs that shoot here and there, making the sounds they really desire at the times they actually want to make them.
Plinking and plonking drunkenly, I Make Windows is an end-of-the-night, end-of-the-world hymn to . It stumbles, staggers and sways, keeping on the right track by force of will alone. The band sound like they are scattered in bits and yet tightly bound together all at once. Promise materialises from angry flames and leers with intent; a threatening drum and screech coupled to demented, terrifying word.
You’ll gladly clutch at Forest Fire, ugly suckers and all, because they’ve realised that these bits, which some people try to disguise or round off, are what separate them from the bland. Their music has that vital ingredient: unconfined individuality. Yum. A really very good new band. Listen here!
*barring the inspiration-bereft day when you may receive an article beginning with the old chestnut, “How to make a New Band. Take a pound of jangly guitar, a splash of hi-hats, fold in some moody posing…etc

>Today’s New Band – Vuk

>Women in pop ‘n’ rock: are they as pigeonholed as in ‘normal’ life? Well, duh. Female pop stars have a choice, of course: either tempting, teen-moppets/quasi-sluts (hi, Britney) or Professionally Kooky Kate Bush-a-likes (Hi, Bat For Lashes). On rare occasions they’re allowed to be non-glam, songs-first-looks-last actual singers (hi, PJ Harvey).

Sadly, the true individuals – the Bjorks – of this world are few and far between. And when was the last time you saw women rock stars behaving with equality to their male counterparts – trashing hotel rooms and seducing teenage boys?

Perhaps the last bit is just wishful thinking. Today’s New Band, Vuk, regardless of predilection for hormonal 17-year-old youths, certainly is her own woman, which elevates her above many of her peers immediately.

Vuk has scope beyond her contemporaries and her years. The Arms of Spirits is a vast, brilliant song full of clicking blocks, thrusting organ, and lovely words, whereas Flint In The Pines begins with woody, creepy menace but blossoms into a tender, rich, byzantine sprawl.

Her songs summon up the choral and the ancient, funnelled through a modern mind. Gramophone And Periscope is almost too sweetly warm and touching to be true.

Vuk’s music is mysterious, deeply fascinating and fabulously original. You must listen here!

Photo: Jussi Puikkonen

>Today’s New Band – Agaskodo Teliverek

>My hangover has finally abated, but the mental wooliness still remains. What I need is a jolt of life to shake me from my self-inflicted stupor. And as if by magic…

Today’s New Band are Agaskodo Teliverek. They are a rare example of a band trying to find their own, genuinely new sound. Everything is thrown into the mix in order to see what works, keeping what does, and disposing of what doesn’t. As such, there’s no set guidelines for their songs, which zip around with gleeful abandon.

The Gay Hussar is a dive into mentalist bizarro-pop, a song that’s alive with manic bursts of energised, sampled/shredded vocals to accompany the sound – a fairground organ played at double speed. It thrashes, jerks and wanders with crazed imprecision.

The Beautiful Bread Man oscillates wildly, and, on their own, the surf guitars, hi-hat spasms and noodling would sound odd, but together they clash beautifully, creating exciting webs of sound.

Agaskodo Teliverek are one-offs, and because of this will leave as many people wide-eyed with pleasure as there will be those scratching their heads, which, in my mind is the sign of a good band. Listen here!

Photograph by Krisztian Zana

>Today’s New Band – Radiant Dragon

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My attitude towards the proliferation of Guitar Hero-esque games has been to wonder why you’d bother spending all that money on a game, some plastic guitar-shaped controllers and an Xbox when you can buy the real instruments for about the same price and have, you know, a real band. And I’m not sure I buy the assertions of Metallica‘s James Hatfield that the plastic Gibson Explorer of Guitar Hero: Metallica is a ‘gateway drug’ to playing an actual guitar.

But here’s something to change all those snobby opinions: it’s The Beatles Rock Band and it looks like it might be actual fun. It’s almost as if some bright spark recognised that the Beatles videogame ought to have a bit of effort put into it; accordingly, you can now live out all your Beatles fantasies – albeit in your living room along with some hideously expensive imitation instruments. But just think: you can now be Ringo warbling Yellow Submarine, all whilst racking up “Double Fab Bonuses”, whatever they are.

I don’t know whether Today’s New Band, Radiant Dragon, harbour latent wanna-Beatles ambition, but they sure know how to make ace pop tunes.

Oysters is a brilliant, swirling, psychedelic jab of pop, filled to the brim with skittering drum loops, weird sounds and melodies more catchy than Swine Flu. Taman is ear-deep in polyrythms, and refuses to buckle as layer after layer of chewy, enticing sound gets piled on top of one another.

Radiant Dragon lubricate songs like Cold Ghost – that could have been clumsy and obtuse – and make them bristle with life. Instruments squelch, shimmer and punch, and the listener can only marvel at the pleasantries of it all.

Some bands pop up unexpectedly and make songs that twist and turn exactly as you’d want them to, just as you’d like them to. Radiant Dragon do this, blithely and simply, with oodles of good-time swagger. A treat. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – The Black and White Years

>Just like any other teenager, my bedroom walls were purely a space demanding to be filled with posters. And amongst the Britpop fare that adorned the area next to my bed was a page torn from Select magazine, featuring Donna Matthews from Elastica.

I can’t find the exact image on the internet, which pains me a little, because, for my teenage, hormone-riddled self, she was achingly cute, and more sexy and down-right exciting than all the girls I knew at school. She looked like the kind of girl who’d let you buy her a drink and then tell you to fuck off, just to be contrary. I’d have given anything for that to happen.

Now imagine the surprise when, in the process of trying to find that picture and relive the surge of teenage lust, I found this article on, er, www.discover-jesus.co.uk. Donna Matthews, the gorgeous hellraising indie bleached-hair bleached-mind beached-morals rock ‘n’ roll Donna Matthews, has got God.

Now, I’m not belittling Christians, or people who find peace in religion. But this is Donna Matthews, for crap’s sake. My latent teenage rock ‘n’ roll fantasies wilted with bewilderment at this theological U-turn.

Funnily enough, Today’s New Band, The Black and White Years, have a song called Power To Change. It’s a lithe, thudding song that twists, turns and jabs a finger at believers and non-believers. “Terrified and strange…Still I believe in the power of change,” they sing, winningly. This song alone contains enough tasty hooks to snare anybody into signing up for any type of change you like.

Other songs, like Broken Hand, will leave you swooning at the deft lyricism, sweet intent and sashaying tunes, even before it bursts into skittering life, bounding with enthusiasm and intent.

Donna says: “I love music because it has the capacity to bring me into God’s presence.” Well, good. But I love music like The Black and White Years’ specifically because it shoves me further away from ever understanding the complexities of human creative brilliance. I don’t want connection with a greater force than that. Sorry, Donna. Listen here.

Photograph by Cory Ryan

>Today’s New Band – Now

>If you ever want a reminder of the power of pocket money and a taste of its indiscriminate, bewildering influence on all our lives, just take a look at the pop charts. There is always, without exception, a heavily promoted, quasi-‘urban’ pop band that makes teenage girls weak at the knees, teenage boys boisterous, and the rest of us stunned at the stupidity of humanity.

Check out R&B/Hip-Hop/Mentalist act N-Dubz. Once you get past the sheer awfulness of their name, brace yourself for the utter lunacy involved in their being – a whirlwind of ‘street’ posturing, ridiculous hats and faux-sincerity. And that’s before you even consider the music. ‘The kids’ lap it up feverishly.

The good news is, that given time, they’ll move onto better music. Hopefully, this will include Today’s New Band, Now. They make music about as far removed from N-Dubz as is possible, and with songs like Splurge, have a neat line in niggling melody, self-descriptive song titles, and weirdness.

Now are defiantly unusual, not attempting to cater to any specific audience, not caring what others think. It’s the good side of the generic “we make music we like and if anyone else likes it, it’s a bonus” rock interview cliché. And so, when Ethnik Snack explodes in a maelstrom of cheeky sitar and tabla, it’s a welcome injection of fun, inventiveness and pace.

Likewise, when Everything Is Inout reveals itself to be a shuffling, soft bob along a river of rose-petal-melody, you’ll be swamped with easy calm, and not questioning any sudden departure from prior songs.

Now are buzzing with invention, charm and class. Listen to Now here, now!

>Today’s New Band – The Siegfried Sassoon

>At 11 last night, a hoard of zombies, almost entirely consisting of denim, hair and sweat, were creeping towards me, making a terrible noise. I was scared.

It then became apparent that it was actually the bulk of the crowd who’d just left the huge AC/DC gig in the city centre, and the dreadful groaning was actually a terrace-chant mish-mash of Hells Bells, Givin’ The Dog A Bone and Let Me Put My Love Into You. One group of men – they were all men – had had a particularly great time, were dressed like Angus Young, and were, indeed, young enough to be his children.

AC/DC are the musical equivalent of going to the pub with your friends, drinking lager, talking about football and boobs, and then being hit on by a surprising array of big-haired, tight-skirted supermodels. Going to their gigs must be like that but with a more pervasive smell of body odour.

It would make perfect sense for Today’s New Band to be balls-out, four-to-the-floor RAWK merchants, but that would make ANBAD seem too professional. Instead, here’s The Siegfried Sassoon.

They leapt to the top of my list as soon as the POWER OF THE PUN was unleashed in the form of their song The Al Gore Rhythm, a song which is a handy example of the template for their thrilling, weird, veering, ADHD approach to rock.

I Galactico bounces around wildly; from proggy excess to chanty pop to thrash ‘n’ trash guitar rock, and Muscle Beach presses all of the buttons on the keyboard at once, and miraculously, find musical successes abounding.

The Siegfried Sassoon are a bit like a super-polished, synth-prog Art Brut (who have an ace new album out this week) – which sounds like all kinds of wrong, but it works. And no laboured sexual euphemisms whatsoever in their songs. Listen here!

Band Photo by Tom Pratt

>Today’s New Band – GOLD PANDA

>Today’s New Band might well garner tons of critical acclaim – and worse, may be burdened with being flavour-of-the-month cool. It’d be a shame, because Gold Panda makes music that deserves to end up in better places than an audio montage on Skins.

Making music from bits and pieces of other things is nothing new, but most attempts just serve to reveal the lack of artistry on the part of the composer, leaving us with ham-fisted cobbled-together mental chewing gum. Gold Panda, however, has got it right.

In Long Vacation, vividly hear a song so infused with the clarity of its own vision that it pulses with life. Here, Gold Panda is sweetly massaging your mind with his sounds and then periodically pricking your attention to make sure you give him your full attention.

Quitters Raga is a fractured song-morsel, taking droning Eastern music and cracking it into bits, before lovingly reassembling it so that it is almost the same as before – but not quite. Like Totally, minimal to the point of almost resembling background noise, fades in from and back to silence so subtly that you won’t realises you’ve just heard something lovely until it has gone.

Gold Panda dips his hands into God’s Black Binliner of Music, pulls out the scraps most people would leave behind, and forces them to coagulate into something smooth, soft and surprising. A bit like a deep-fried Mars Bar. Except that listening to Gold Panda won’t give you heart disease. Listen here!