Hail! The Planes: Chiffon Fluttering

Hail! The Planes arrive on ANBAD with an almost pitch-perfect set-up: not only were they recommended by a previous (and very good indeed) band, Trwbador, but they also have a great! big! exclamation! mark! in the middle of their band name.

Regular readers will know that the latter, in particular, really does count for something.

All hail!, then, a band who have made a folk song which transcends its six-minute limitations and unfolds – it really does seem to unfold – into a broad, chiffon-thin, kaleidoscopic swirl of colour and life.


The song flips between fluttering flimsiness and stout, reassuring bulk. A coiling, circular melody of almost excessive simplicity develops into  something perilously close to overblown; and it’s this dalliance between two extremes that lends the song its strength.

Brother is a generous song that still keeps most of its cards clutched close. After listening you’ll know how to feel, but you might not be sure why. Nice.

MORE: hailtheplanes.bandcamp.com

Red Tides: The Brit School’s Loss Is Jessie J’s Gain

If Jessie J is the Sound Of 2011, should the rest of new music give up now?

The BBC’s yearly predictive polling of ‘tastemakers’ is increasingly states the bleeding obvious: naming an already hyped, industry-sponsored, stage-school-whelped, lung-bustin’, tabloid-shockin’, Lady Gaga-lite singer as the most likely success story of the coming year is no huge stretch of their collective imaginations.

Whilst not wishing to feed the flames of hyperbole with the oxygen of publicity any further, it’s worth highlighting the sad incestuous nature of Jessie J’s inexorable rise: as a Brit School attendee, she has had the concerted weight of a desperate industry behind her from the very start.

If a public service broadcaster puts their weight behind her too, how do bands that are struggling to do it all alone feel?

As far as I am aware, none of the members of Manchester’s Red Tides attended the Brit School, a non-attendance which accounts for their producing a single as genuinely plaintive and heartfelt as Housebound.

The song is as fragile as the sentiment behind it; limping with wounded pride, cracked resolve and yet still arcing smokily across grey skies. Some songs begin with intent and fade away, and other songs fade in, reaching a  crescendo. This song lilts gently into existence, ponders, and leaves again just as stealthily.

Housebound is understated, quietly epic and craftily sentimental. It tugs imperceptibly at those nagging feelings of doubt, love and yearning that we all secretly house. I haven’t yet checked whether Jessie J‘s Do It Like A Dude covers the same ground.

NB: There’s a give-away of the single today:

Housebound video // redtides.bandcamp.com

Lucky Delucci; The Perils Of EU-Funded Urban Renewal

Cardiff is a fundamentally strange place. A capitol city with a small-town mindset. Beautiful buildings side-by-side with deeply ugly, crumbling counterparts. Money sluicing into some areas, and cruelly meandering away from others.

No, there’s nothing too unusual about these circumstances. But Cardiff’s small size magnifies these effects, and it’s the first I mentioned that has the greatest impact. It’s an important place, and yet for many, it’s simply their local town, where they pop into on Saturday to buy sausages. Mmm, sausages.

Anyway – the result is a music scene that is dynamic, fractured and outward-looking, and yet marked with a homely feel. I’m aways expecting a New Wave Of Country and Western to emerge from there.

Until that happens, here’s Cardiff’s Lucky Delucci, typically fulfilling their requirements: gentle Euros Childs-esque folk cross-faded with staccato drums; the Tweecore golden duo of glockenspiels ‘n’ strings pushing up against something a bit more… grand.

Lucky Delucci // December 1986

By twinning these two sensibilities of old and new, Lucky Delucci fulfil Cardiff’s unspoken remit: thrusting forward to the future yet pandering to the past. In the tedious world of town planning, this approach might stultify; in the shimmering world of shiny pop music, it works, if you can do it.

Lucky Delucci can. Sweet, cunning, and gazing hungrily over the horizon. Or at least Cardiff Bay.


Tom Williams and The Boat; Faint Praise and HOT TIPS

Caveats, caveats.

Tips from readers are always more than welcome, especially when they are accompanied by such semi-praise as, ‘I think one of his songs is great, but I’m not sure. And the rest – well, I’m not sure about those either.’

Thanks, anonymous reader. Nail those colours to the mast, why don’t you?

Well, with recommendations like that, what more encouragement to listen is needed? Tom Williams and The Boat were the lucky recipients of such unbridled encouragement, though I imagine they won’t be hurt by such undistinguished praise. I’ll get to that later.

Tom Williams and the Boat // Concentrate

This is a song that doesn’t just hit the ground running, it’s rushing off in a lung-bursting, sinew-stretching sprint while the rest are still tying their shoelaces.

Concentrate is the sound of a band who are either ultra-confident, or ultra-desperate to escape the drudge of normal life. If the lyrics are anything to go by, I suspect the latter.

The song is the defiant sound of an alienated soul looking into the mirror after one too many knocks and scraping up the will to continue. The moral is: concentrate hard on self-belief, because it may not come from anywhere, or anyone, else. Ooh, serious. Great stuff.


Emily Barker; Mass Murder, Manslaughter and Myths

Emily Barker: Speaking in tongues

As usual, the internet is to blame.

Already complicit in the murder – or at least the involuntary manslaughter – of the record shop, the music press and the CD, another important part of rock ‘n’ roll has found itself at peril: the rock legend.

Freeing all that lovely information from its shackles into the public domain has an almot infinite number of positive aspects, but it has also blown a raft of wonderful myths to pieces.

Now we know that of course The Beatles didn’t smoke a joint in  Buckingham Palace, that obviously Keith Richards just made up that story about having a total blood transfusion, and that, naturellement, the sticky story involving The Rolling Stones, Marianne Faithfull and a Mars Bar is just to grim to be true.

So maybe a few years ago the story of how Emily Barker has been plucked from obscurity and had her song used as the theme to a BBC show watched by millions could have had its own minor spot on the Myths Shelf.

Now, we just assume she’s a hard-working musician who wrote a good song and knocked on enough doors. It’s a shame. I prefer the myth. The internet has simply ruined our most heart-warming daydreams.

Emily Barker // Little Deaths

This is not her TV-show song. This is Little Death, a song whose misty near-invisibility is almost spiritual in its ethereal beauty.

Apparently, it’s only a demo, but I can find no reason to re-record, re-edit or return to it in any way. It sits, perfectly formed, a snapshot of an orange-hued, shimmering moment. And why change something like that?


Midnight Boatman: Calm Rebellion

Constantly searching for new bands leaves you strangely myopic.

Tunnel vision develops insidiously and subtly, until one day you realise that the only bands who will spark your synapses any more are the most obscure, defiant and truly gauche; the bands for whom melody is a dispensable luxury and strange noise-making is all that counts.

These bands are all well and good – and in fact, they might well be my favourites – but focussing on one small niche of anything is a crime against balance. Too much of anything is a bad thing. (With the exception of peanut butter on toast, of which there can never be enough. But I digress.)

Midnight Boatman make old-fashioned, old-time, old-world music. It’s sometimes difficult to remember that this is not a crime.

Midnight Boatman // Forward

Songs like Forward take a tried-and-tested approach: a guitar, a couple of doleful voices, a song about love, loss and life. Honest voices nip and tuck, and the guitars buckle under the weight. It’s a song racked with self-doubt but infused with optimism;  accurately picturing the pinprick of light that spurs the sad onwards.

Perhaps Midnight Boatman have found a new way to be innovative simply by using old techniques. Perhaps I’m trying to look for something that isn’t there. Either way, in Midnight Boatman, charm abounds.


>Lissie, Apologies and Besottification

Sifting through new bands is ultimately a pleasant task, though inherently flawed – everyone has experienced expressing dislike for a specific band only to later find that actually they’re rather good. So it was with Lissie, whom I initially dismissed as another lightweight country-folk-esque crooner.

Now of course, I feel foolish, as I mistook the simplicity of her genuinely heartfelt and utterly charming songs for an absence of substance.

My apologies for such callous cynicism are soundtracked by such delightful songs as Little Lovin’, that begins as a quaint love song and morphs unceremoniously into a foot-stomping paean to desire.

Lissie – Little Lovin’

And Wedding Bells may well take a well-worn woe-is-me failure-in-love path, but is so engagingly downtrodden and shuffling that only the coldest of hearts could hold it against her.

Lissie is a Mississippian via Paris, London and LA. Her wanderlust coils, ribbon-like, through her songs. Quite frankly, her songs and her voice are a dream, and we’re just all playing bit-parts as she sweetly dictates the terms. And if that sounds hopelessly besotted, it’s because I am. A delight.

Photography by Andrew Calder

>Today’s New Band – Beth Jeans Houghton

>Happy Mondays (of course) had a guitarist who was, variably, called ‘Moose’ or ‘Cowhead’, and Shaun Ryder himself would sometimes only answer to the moniker ‘X’. The Offspring have Noodles. 60’s band Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch had… well, never mind.

Bands, and their select members-club nature, are a breeding ground for mildly stupid in-joke behaviour. Part endearing trait, part eye-rolling japery, this knack for appellative nonsense is part and parcel of rock ‘n’ roll, whether us punters, with mere human names, like it or not. Even The Beatles had a Ringo.

Today’s New Artist, Beth Jeans Houghton, doesn’t need a krayzee-bonkers name to zip hurriedly past the wheat and the chaff. Her songs are shot through with a bizarre, unnerving and dizzy purity – all wrapped up in near-Gothic splendour.

Sweet Tooth Bird soars appropriately, sucking in swirls of beautiful sound and oozing a glorious, unguent sonic syrup back out. Golden is what synesthesiacs hear when they are bathed in glorious orange sunlight – unnervingly warm, bright and cosy. I naively assumed songs like The Garden to be more traditional, but when did you last hear a trad-folk song with such ethereal and angelic whisperings?

Beth Jeans Houghton is a wonderful discovery. Taking sweet and gentle folk music and skewering it with shards of crackling weirdness, her songs clasp you softly, albeit with a worryingly firm grip. You’ll not want her to let go. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Ivan Campo PLUS! Killing wildlife!

>There have been a few songs that, on the first hearing, the sudden realisation that what I was listening to was so good, so head-spinningly wonderful, so new, that I’ve stopped whatever I’m doing just to listen, in a happy music-coma. Off the top of my head, five of the songs that have lead to this are:

Temptation by New Order
Common People by Pulp
Bigmouth Strikes Again by The Smiths
I Love You ‘Cause I Have To by Dogs Die in Hot Cars
Leg End In His Own Boots by Ned’s Atomic Dustbin

OK, the last one’s a joke. But the rest are about right. When I first heard Temptation, I had to rewind the tape after three minutes because I’d enjoyed it so much, and I couldn’t wait to get to the end to hear it again. I was driving through country lanes when I heard I Love You ‘Cause I Have To, and after almost distractedly running over a pheasant, had to pull over to safely drum along on the steering wheel.

I’m willing to pin the blame for such rank behavioural idiocy onto the dizzying qualities of such stupendously good music. Therefore, perhaps A New Band A Day should have a small yellow and black warning sign, similar to ones in factories that say ‘Do not operate this machinery under the influence of alcohol’.

Today’s New Band, Ivan Campo, might not make your car hurtle towards game birds, but – WARNING – foot tapping may spontaneously occur. They’re named after the impressively-curly-haired footballer who has played for wildly differing teams. There are not many players who have pulled on the shirts of Real Madrid and Bolton Wanderers.

In this respect the band share some similarity with the man, as their songs are sweetly cute one minute (The Curse), and breezily folky the next (The Lotus Eater). Darling Diva is a rambling love song that takes the musical equivalent of a happy stroll down a beach with its loved one, but as the song is punctuated with the bleeping of a digital watch, it occurs that something isn’t quite as rosy as it seemed – “Something just doesn’t quite add up/I smell a rat…”

Ivan Campo‘s band logo is a bastardisation of the one for Malibu rum. Despite coming from dreary Preston, their sound is also summery, warm and intoxicating. Mmmm, easy-going. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Goodbyehome PLUS! Reform or New Forms?


Did you know The Only Ones are reformed and gigging again? No, me neither. They split in ’82. If their name doesn’t ring bells, their ace hit Another Girl, Another Planet will – which is, as you’ll now remember, about as good a power-pop-punk song as has ever been written. Still not sure? Listen to it once and the song’ll still be pinging around your head when you go to sleep.
Re-forming is a bit of a tough decision to make for any band – Rock ‘n’ Roll isn’t about steering towards a pension at the end of it all, it’s about going down in a blaze of messy glory and fond memories. It’ll either be one last hurrah or one more drudge in front of aging fans from the old days.
I like to think that when faced with the possibility of seeing a reformed band, I’d dismissively murmur “Don’t look back”, in a smoulderingly pouty way. But then in the last 18 months, I’ve seen My Bloody Valentine and Bis (see previous posts ad nauseum) and have raved endlessly about both. And then look at it this way: If The Smiths reformed, who wouldn’t sell the family silver for a ticket?
Even so, there’s usually more compelling reasons to see a new band than an old one. You might catch them in a breathless, excitingly embryonic stage, which is kind of where Today’s New Band, Goodbyehome, are at. They’re from Chicago, and have that rare folky wistfulness that makes your heart soar and drop simultaneously.
Why I Never Run aches with loving tenderness. The guitar and strings soar over each other, weaving a sound so happy-sad that you might even miss the fact that the vocals do exactly the same thing in exactly the same way. Chemicals and Compromise has the kind of rambling rambunctiousness that’ll grab you by the lapels and pull you onto the dancefloor.
Goodbyehome make the music that would accompany sad, fond memories of a roadtrip where, after driving for hours in the wilderness, you met a beautiful girl at a bar in the middle of nowhere, and spent your whole night with her, knowing you’d never see her again. Sob. Sit at a lonely bar, nurse a beer and reminisce with them here!