K-X-P: Test Pilots Of The Past, Of The Future!

Faux-nostalgia is all the rage. Chief current exponents are Brother, the new band who, against the explicit wishes of nearly everyone, have managed to discover musical potential in Menswe@r’s most quickly cast-off B-sides.

If their attempts at rekindling the not-so-golden days of the 90’s is destined for defeat, or at least mass mockery, then what of more measured stabs at reliving the past?

K-X-P yearn for the glory days of 1950’s USA, when the future seemed a bright, nuclear-driven frenzy of convenience. They have found the wafer-thin line between the past and the past’s vision of the future – a bold and difficult balance.

Their name makes me bristle with faux-nostalgia for 1950’s test pilot heroes, leaping bravely, cigarette clamped between white teeth, into experimental jet planes with names like – well, just like K-X-P.

Dragging Slo-Motornik drums and the simplest, most endless, of synth stabs in its wake, Pockets throbs with the white light and dry heat of the desert; its epic chord changes mirroring the euphoric washes of adrenal excitement felt as the temperature cranks ever upward.

Seven-minute singles rarely catch the attention, but this one’s a beauty – languid, precise, golden. Ace.

K-X-P are on tour now:
19 Jan LONDON, Lexington
20 Jan DUBLIN, Button Factory
21 Jan KILKENNY, Cleere’s Theatre
22 Jan CORK, Pine Lodge
23 Jan CORK, Crane Lane Theatre
24 Jan GLASGOW, Captains Rest
26 Jan LEEDS, Brudenell Social Club

Zebra and Snake and Tim Davie’s Frantic Back-Pedalling

Hey, remember the fuss about the proposed closure of BBC 6Music? No, neither do I.

But plenty were enraged at the time. A fuss was splurged all over Twitter; tiny, ironically hi-topped, feet were stamped; and online petitions – the world’s least-regarded form of complaint – were clicked.

I am pleased at this volte-face, not least because it makes BBC grand fromage Tim Davie look just like the hopeless cretin that one 6Music DJ memorably described him as to me.

Moreover, it presents me with a readily-seized opportunity for smugness, as my wildly hopeful 6 Music Conspiracy Theory turns out to have skirted around the edges of truth after all.

Dipping into Scandinavia’s vast new band resource is always reward in itself, and yet with the good 6 Music news, it becomes yet another reason for celebration. Here is Zebra and Snake, a typically bonkers Finnish band who make music that will rattle your ears with its invention, audacity and downright strangeness.

Zebra and Snake // Big Bad Drummer

There is always pleasure in re-appraising beauty, and by listening to the synth-heavy cracked pop of Zebra and Snake, we can hear the strains of all the confused brilliance contained within all the other Finnish, Swedish et al bands that have graced ANBAD’s pages.

There’s no other part of the world that I can think of which is making such deeply pleasing music, with such an absence of self-importance, and having such a good time doing it.

These are qualities that we all ought to celebrate, happily and loudly, and with the salvation of BBC 6Music, one that we can do that little bit longer. Viva 6Music!


Kaskas; and Finland’s Fey National Service Revolution

In the end, it’s about sheer numbers. And now I’ve written about so many bands I can’t even begin to count them.

Well, I can – it’s probably around the 500 mark – but some facts are best left unknown, especially ones that make you reconsider your sanity. Still, one of the fun side effects is that I have no idea if I’ve done today’s band before or not.

It would just be safer to blame Finland, because Kaskas are what seems like the thousandth precise, charming and jaunty poppy rock band to come out of Finland this month.

At a guess as to the source of this glut of bands, I can only imagine that national service was abandoned some time in the mid-90’s and replaced with compulsory Jangly Guitar Service and Laconic Vocal Delivery Orders.

Kaskas // Grandmother Weaves

Grandmother Weaves, with its soporific slouch and utterly casual undertones, is the kind of song you’d like to listen to whilst enjoying a Friday night sunset by the sea, brandy filling your glass and peace filling your heart.

Kaskas manage to introduce a drizzle of easy-listening lounge-drone into the song, and instead of clubbing it into a dull grey coma, it actually shoots it through with vim and vigour. Utterly sweet, soft and calming. A surprising delight.


MIDWEEK MIXTAPE // May 5th 2010

The Mixtape in which ANBAD is Back, Wack and the Axis Of Mack

Well, that was an extended break wasn’t it? ‘On holiday’,said the tab on the logo, but blistered fingers, aching back and a fried mind bely a misnomer of epic proportions.

In reality, ANBAD was moving flat – which, as, any morono-pop psychologist will tell you, is the second most stressful event in life, after being trapped in a lift with a hungover Mark E. Smith.

So here’s a Midweek Mixtape to soothe a troubled soul. The donkey picture returns, but this time googly eyes are tastefully utilised to convey sadness and shock. And LOLZ. The tape:

FIRST! I Was A Teenage Satan Worshipper have a name that belongs to a sludge metal band, but actually the truth is even more predictable – they’re yet another tuneful, winsome and thrillingly tidy Scandinavian pop-rock band. Finland, to be exact.

I Was A Teenage Satan Worshipper // A Day Like This

Spoken-word lyrics, a driving beat, squeaky synths – A Day Like This is a scrabbling, scuffling thrash-pop nugget of joy. Just as you’d expect. Excellent, inevitably.

SECOND! Daddy Lion must be some kind of rapscallion. The music demands it. Rumbustious songs like Divine are the mark of a scallywag, at least. Rousing dum-dum-bullet (IMPORTANT N.B.: not ‘The Dum Dums’) songs. Nice.

THIRD! Woozy Viper make supremely satisfying and – yes – woozy, stripped-down, sharp, sing-a-long quasi-rock/blues numbers. They are giving their album away for free. I could think of much worse consequences of a few errant social-networking mouse-clicks. Justin Bieber, for one.

FOURTH! 5 Cent Theatre Can you imagine Fiddy Cent doing Shakespeare? “Alas, poor Tupac, I knew him well…” wait – it’s 5 Cent Theatre. Ah – well, imagine Fiddy’s thesp leanings whilst listening to their excellent creep-rock and you’ll have the best of both worlds. Nice. Brrrap!

THATS IT! That’s it. Normal service resumed tomorrow.

PS: This month’s radio show is delayed while ANBAD gets its act together. It’ll be along soon, promise.

Joensuu 1685, Delightful Holiday Destinations and Wooziness

I do sometimes worry that anyone browsing through the ANBAD archives (which you can do just over there, on the right) will get the impression that the new bands are merely a cover story, and that in reality the site is a sneaky subsidiary of the Scandinavian Tourist Board.

It seems that every other post blathers, semi-coherently and effusing, about the wonderful bands’ ceaseless streaming out of that part of the world. But the thing is that it’s true – our blonde northern Euro cousins are producing a glut of vibrant, clever, simple and self effacingly fabulous bands, and I’m happy to have banged on about them since day one.

So while it sounds insulting to point out that Finland’s Joensuu 1685 are just the latest in a very long line of tuneful, sweet and bright Scandinavian bands, it’s actually the highest compliment I could pay. And a swooning, beautiful, woozy song like You Shine Brighter Than Light is testimony: it feels like the strange elation that follows a period of extreme sadness.

Joensuu 1685 You Shine Brighter Than Light

Joensuu 1685 are good: their songs drone just enough to hypnotize, but not enough to drear; their pop sound is charming but not twee; and songs like the widescreen, driving Crystal Light rocket skywards as if under their own power.

Joensuu 1685: the first band labelled ‘Actually Brilliant’ of the year. Great. And if there is a Scandinavian Tourist Board, and they fancy sponsoring an ANBAD Fact-Finding Mission to their part of the world, feel free to email me…

>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 – Delay Trees!

>’This is it,’ he kept repeating in his child-like voice, ‘this is really it.’ And so with that, Michael Jackson resorted to the oldest trick in the rock book – the LAST EVER TOUR. He’s playing at the Millennium Dome in London for what seems like eternity, milking ever drop of cash from his demented devoted fans. Here’s a video of some of those fans, by the way. See if you can spot the chubby man nearly wetting himself on the front row.

Inevitably, he’ll then do the same thing in every big city worldwide, for the rest of his life, until Vegas comes calling and he can see out his final days in garish non-dignity. Final shows, come backs and yet more final shows are par for the superstar musician course.

It’s easy to sneer at it all, but then I was first in line to see The La’s on their ill-fated ‘comeback’, which was possibly done for tax reasons alone, a few years ago.

Sneering is something that I doubt Today’s New Band, Finland’s Delay Trees, ever do. They seem far too nice to be cynical about anything. As dull as it is to keep highlighting how northern European bands and beautifully bright guitar-pop songs seem to go hand-in-hand, Delay Trees are another lovely example of that rule.

Songs like Tarantula Holding On, sweet and unassuming without being bland, manage to avoid cliché or dullness and engage on a simpler, gentler level. About Brothers takes a well-trodden route of jangling guitars, tinkling percussion and harmonised vocals, but ends up leaving you in a comforted heap of relaxed muscle.

Their songs are brighter and breezier than a children’s TV presenter, and about as threatening, but are so innocently enjoyable that you’ll feel instantly removed from the arch, art/fashion-rock that is the miserable norm. Zen out and listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Yes Please!, Miserablism and Grey Skies

>Winter has well and truly arrived here in Manchester. Initially, it came in fits and starts, drunkenly staggering frostily here and there, but now it’s running its icy fingers up and down all our spines, and my extremities are in a constant state of chilly anxiety.

Manchester is renowned for its dreadful weather. Pewter-grey skies are the norm, usually accompanied by a constant fine drizzle which, helpfully, saps one’s will to live within days. Look at this webcam, and I’m willing to gamble the image you’ll see will be 50% fuzzy grey. Living in Manchester is like living inside Tupperware. It’s no wonder Mancunian bands like The Smiths, Joy Division and The Fall are so relentlessly downbeat.

Today’s New Band, Yes Please! hail from the outrageously named places of Espoo, Olari, Uusimaa in Finland. If that isn’t making you splutter into your mug of coffee, then you, sir/madam, are not human.

At ANBAD, we have a soft spot for bands from the north of Europe, due to their almost unwavering lust for jangly pop songs. Yes Please! proudly exhibit this love too. Imaginary Success is about as growlingly hostile as Finnish guitar pop gets, a big heaving song that runs and runs and runs and then collapses. Enjoy and Laugh also flits between their twin ideals of brassy pop and earnestness.

Yes Please! was the name of the Happy Monday’s last, dreadful album. They were from Manchester too, but their music was stupendously, well, happy – though this may have had something to do with the industrial quantities of drugs they consumed. Yes Please! the band are nothing like the Happy Mondays, but their music is just as joyfully enthusiastic. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – The Alibies

>I gave myself an alibi once, when officers from Operation Ore came knocking at my door*. However, with that minor discretion now behind me, I can fully turn my attention to the quirky electro-pop of The Alibies.

They’re a bit like a fey version of fellow Scandinavian mentallists The Knife, but The Alibiesare slightly camper and exhibit slightly more unusual humour. This is a good thing. Their tunes sound like they were made in a bedroom by two friends brought together by a dislike of normality. This is also a good thing. Frighteningly, they are unsigned as of yet, which probably says more about record companies’ reluctance to send A&R men to their hometown of Ylivieska, Pohjois-Pohjanmaa. And yes, that is a real place – in Finland, apparently. It also has an incredible score of 61 in Scrabble.

Anyway, check out the fantastic “Burn Brightly” on their Myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/thealibies

The other songs are great too, but Burn Brightly sounds like someone locked Kraftwerk, Adam And The Ants and Erasure in a small room and then chucked a few grenades in, to see what would happen. If anyone has a wanton disregard for human life and wants to conduct this experiment for real, drop us an email to let us know how it went.

*for the benefit of mob-happy morons: this is a joke