>Today’s New Band – The Monroe Transfer PLUS! Yet more darts!

>Another week, another World Darts Final. It seems like it’s all that’s on TV these days. This weekend it was the PDA – or was it the BDO – version of the world title, and yet another 4 hours of my life was summarily dispatched watching two arrows-throwing titans of the sport battle it out at the oche.

There’s something very Zen about watching the grim determination on the faces of two fat, sweating men as they throw darts as an audience of drunks cheers them on. Even more thrilling is watching this in the knowledge that they could legitimately stand alongside Usain Bolt and Christiano Ronaldo as athletes at the pinnacle of their chosen sport. That said, I don’t expect to see Ted “The Count” Hankie appearing with Tiger Woods and Roger Federer in an advert for Gillette anytime soon.

If Darts is simple, unrefined and to the point (arf!), then Today’s New Band, The Monroe Transfer are the opposite; complicated, multi-layered and dense. But just like Darts, there’s a similar veneer of calmness and a brash nonconformity.

They’re a band where perhaps analysing individual songs is not the point (though, of course, we will), as their songs are long, drawn-out and connecting with you in a wholly different way to the usual three minute blast. This isn’t whale-noise ‘mood-music’ though, but is a collection of carefully constructed sounds, both attention-grabbing and subliminally affecting.

A Long Fall And No-one To Catch You is just that – a slow, lingering descent towards an inevitable finish, like those dreams where you materialise a mile up in the sky and then calmly watch the earth zoom towards you. JFK is doom-laden and tense, a thoughtful musical shimmy to Kennedy’s address on the Cuban Missile Crisis. Joy might well be about happiness, but not any type of glee that you’ve ever experienced.

If all of this sounds weighty, well, it is. I’m sure that, as people, they’re a bunch of knock-around, diamond-geezer, cheeky chappies. But on record, they’re plumbing depths and exploring feelings for us so that we don’t have to. That they’re chosen to record their findings as lovely, drifting music is a happy, complicated, bonus. So listen to them here!

>Today’s New Band – Karma Vision PLUS! Darts! Beatles! Victory!


On Sunday I watched the World Darts Final, where two titans of the ultimate mano-a-mano sport, Ray “Barney” van Barneveld and Phil “The Power” Taylor met, yet again. In the dizzying, enjoyably banal world of darts, the fatter, more lairy and drunker you are, the more closely you can associate with the participants; and while I can’t truely lay claim all of those traits, I gave it a good go.
Phil Taylor used to run a pub within spitting distance from my parent’s house, so I have whatever the darts equivalent of ‘affection’ is for him. In the final, Phil, 14 times champion, walked all over van Barneveld. It was a bit embarrassing, really. He won 7-1.
After the game, Barney said that practising for 10 hours (10 hours! Of darts!) a day wasn’t enough to beat The Power. Poor old Ray. Phil’s un-human dominance made me wonder: has there been a musical equivalent? A band that kept on winning, churning out great song after song, album after album?
In Trainspotting, Sick Boy cites David Bowie whilst explaining that no matter how good you are at your peak, you’ll eventually lose it. This is probably true, as anyone who has heard Bowie’s late-80’s albums will testify. Thinking about it, it’s predictably The Beatles who had that magical hit-rate. Even though Let It Be was a bit of a clunker, you could blindly pick any of their albums and still be flabbergasted with enjoyment.
To move from the Best Band Ever™ to Today’s New Band is quite an unkind leap, but there, we’ve done it. That said, Karma Vision (for it is them) is the kind of name that The Beatles would probably approve of. I think they’d probably also approve of the dreamily reverb ‘n’ tambourine combo that is Teeter Totter, a song that sounds like what your 21st-Century brain imagines the 60’s sounded like, against all the rational evidence saying otherwise.
There’s something very un-now about Karma Vision. On one hand, there’s nothing either old or new about guitars and singing, but then here is a viable bridge between the very specific past and today that isn’t twee, schlock or superfluous.
Rabbit Hole Surf is a lovely, floating song that is a bit earnest, a bit jokey, a bit unhinged but always grinning and happy. It’s a song that ought to be played on a Dansette, as you watch the sun go down from a Californian beach. Clichéd description? Yes. Would you care if you were doing just that? No, and that’s probably the point. Listen to Karma Vision here and feel that orange-drenched sky, man!
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