Glass Animals; Fuelled By Devious High Teas

I’ve been investing great swathes of time listening to the Beastie Boys‘ audio commentaries of the their best albums. They’re a blast, with the three now-veteran (OK, ‘old’) japesters collectively pressing tongues firmly into their cheeks.

Still, these insights are hugely revealing, particularly when it comes to the thorny issue of defining creativity itself. Much time is dedicated to bickering good-naturedly over whether an SP-1200 or Akai MPC-60 was used to sample a novelty cod-funk record, and by their own admission the hectic and brilliant Check Your Head took three years to make: of which two and a half was spent playing basketball.

Their self-effacing attitude isn’t simply a front –  they seem wholly bemused by their ability to cobble together songs that end up being loved by so many, especially as their attitude towards their craft sounds relaxed to say the least.

So if the Beastie Boys don’t know how they do it, what hope do any new bands have? How do they learn? The same way as Ad-Rock and co. did, I imagine: by staggering along and hoping for the best.

Is this how Glass Animals went about putting their songs together too? Probably – but by the sounds of it, they replaced the sweaty two-on-one basketball sessions with spiffing high teas.

Their songs linger and creep, and this quality is none more apparent than in Dust In Your Pocket, an exercise in spooked-out pop that has all the hallmarks of a band that are so overflowing with ideas that they were forced to fade down half of the tracks they recorded simply for reasons of clarity.

Dust is minimal to the point that the listener is dragged along waiting for the moment the song collapses – although it never does – and the song turns out to be its own devious alter-ego, keeping excess in check and thriving on its own dizzy and multi-faceted construction. Glass Animals: strange, sharp and direct.


Halls – Stop Thinking, Start Being

Funny how weeks pan out here at ANBAD Towers.

I wasn’t planning on a week of showcasing mainly left-field electronic burbling – astute readers will notice that I don’t plan anything at all – but it has worked out that way. You can tell this at a glance of the ANBAD front page – it’s full of vaguely colourful pictures instead of band images. Electronic artists love to hide behind vaguely colourful images.

It’s often useful not to dwell on the whys, and to simply get stuck into the doing. This, I believe, is the secret behind pretty much everything, but especially so when it comes to the usually solitary process of making electronic music. Too much thinking hurts everyone and everything involved.

I’m not saying that music like HallsCave Days isn’t thoughtful, or even thought-out, just that such dreamily soft and persuasive songs have to be drawn from the depths of the mind by near-nefarious means.

Grappling with the kind of fresh-bread-warm synth sounds that were Orbital’s trademark and using them in an wholly different manner is a tough task, but craftily achieved here. Cave Days slips past, seductive, soporific and fragrant.

Its presence is only apparent when the song carefully drains itself into silence. Replaying the song immediately is then a requirement. Now that’s the sign of a great song. Beautiful.

Download the EP on a pay-what-you-like basis here.

ALSO: Matt from the brilliant Pigeon Post asked me to write about an overlooked band for his Scattered Pearls series of articles. I’ve sullied his excellent blog by blabbing about all-but-forgotten New Zealand band The Chills, and you can read it here.

Teamforest: Dizzying Sunshine and Shameless Plugs

Although I’m now pondering the wisdom of launching a second blog (oh, go on then: it’s when I don’t even have enough time to run one, there are also gratifying surprises.

When you’ve listened to Sting violently ruining Jimi Hendrix‘s Little Wing for the tenth time, certain occurrences take place. Naturally, there are feelings of horror, confusion and the instinctive desire to stuff soft objects into the ear canals. But chiefly, it is a genuine appreciation of good music.

Bands like Team Forest thus become more vital than ever. Because now, their metronomic, economic sounds are not just blissful and gelatinous, they help shove dreadfully ill-judged music out of my mind.

Team Forest // Leave This Town On Bicycle

Cycling has a excellent, if limited role in music history – in that Team Forest‘s compatriots Kraftwerk wrote an entire album about it – and Leave This Town On Bicycle nails the both the free-wheeling fun and repetitious groove-inhabitation of cycling.

The song is frail but insistent, bright but challenging, like a cold evening’s reedy sunshine strobing through woodland as you cycle by. It’s just as mesmerising and comforting. Calm, gentle, full of promise. Lovely.

Photograph by Stephane Charpentier.

Via Bad Panda records // Creative Commons License: BY-NC-SA 3.0

Matt Raudsepp; Unconvention, and Har Mar Superstar’s Gooey Faceful

Last Saturday I watched Har Mar Superstar rub Vaseline into his face before having a large quantity of white goo applied to his features. I even took a photo and tweeted it.

Of course, such titillation can only result in disappointment – and in terms of half-hearted sexual connotations, you’d be right – but all these things did indeed take place at the wonderful Unconvention Factory, in Macclesfield.

As with all clever concepts, its brilliance is matched by its simplicity. Take a bundle of new music’s movers, shakers and hangers-on, put them in an old factory and make them talk.

The music world is so enclosed, it hurts. Bands are scared they’ll get ripped off, photographers are tired of having pictures half-inched, and writers *cough* are bored of spending hours typing without reward. As a consequence, out of dumb, plain fear, we stupidly keep our traps clamped shut – you know, just in case.

This is nonsense, and Unconvention proves that sharing is, indeed, caring. I learnt more in ten hours than in a month of reading forums or wading through message board abuse. If you can attend one near you, I suggest fighting to get in.

And speaking of sharing, back to the new bands. Here’s Matt Raudsepp, Montealean, songsmith and maker of gently persuasive songs about Rolling Pins:

Matt Raudsepp // Rolling Pins

If Matt Raudsepp could share anything with us, what would it be? There’s something about Rolling Pins that prickles feelings of weariness, aches and pains, and euphoria – all at once. Lush with0ut bloat, simple but not crude and wise without preaching, the song caresses, soothes and calms.

Here’s a man with songs to brighten the cloudiest of hearts. That’s a good thing to share.

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?

Fists, and Radiohead’s Hot Chocolate Rock Covers

Remember when Radiohead were just a classic rock band?

No, I’d forgotten too – but there it was, plain as day, when The Bends shuffled onto my iPod (is using one considered retro yet?). The slick, wide, guitar sound is there. A four-square rock structures to all the songs. The lyrics are tangible, comprehensible, forward. It’s classic rock, all right.

The Bends offers no hint of the genre-busting right turn they would take over the course of their next three albums. The Bends‘ big, beautiful rock could just as easily be an album by a band who were about to morph into U2.

With hindsight, it’s possible to see The Bends as an album of skewed and troubled songs played by a talented rock covers group. The band’s sound is a rich, glossy chocolate that gloops over the songs; and yet – shards still prick through. In the end, Radiohead learnt to love the shards alone.

And here is the inherent beauty of any new band: potential. They might – might – surprise everyone, themselves included. Train all eyes, then, on Fists, a Nottingham band that specialise in deceit.

Fists are happy to pull the wool over your eyes in two ways: with their name, which tricks you into thinking they’re a Doom Metal band, and secondly, with their sound itself, fooling the listener into thinking that they are another twee-rock band.

Fists // Weekend

You too will feel a sense of shame when you realise that they are  a much better band than that. Weekend is slow, then fast, then heartfelt, then manic. Weekend grows organically, caressing you as it twists its spindly, slender frame around your accepting body until the melody is so tightly coiled around you, submission is the only option left.

Fists remind me a lot of the wonderful, defunct, Royal We, and I can think of no higher praise. Royal We were a band who had potential, produced one great mini-album, and then vanished. It would be a crime – a crime – if the same happened to Fists. Tough, fragile, crazed, and excellent.

Pengilly’s – Bothering Pedants and Jilting Expectations Since 2009

That’s a mysterious apostrophe isn’t it? A taunting, curious interruption, that begs half a dozen questions, not the least of which is, ‘Who is Pengilly? And just what is it that belongs to them?’

Hopefully it’s (geddit!?!) presence will irritate the crap out of Lynne Truss, the only woman to ever make an extended book career out of being a grammar pedant. Imagine how much fun she’d be at a dinner party.

Pengilly’s, vicious apostrophe and all, however, would be a delight. Especially if they cooed and fluttered their way through the floaty-light Ivan Splits In Two right there, at the dinner table. Well, you have to drown out the Sade CD somehow.

Pengilly’s – Ivan Splits In Two

Starting with a burble, ending on an orchestral high, and bold enough to leave the vocals to half-way through, Ivan Splits In Two takes the long route and walks it, albeit wearing a sensible pear of sandals all the while.

On paper Pengilly’s should be awful – a laptop ‘n’ strings ‘n’ keyboards ‘n’ fey, wide-eyed pop band gushing cheerily – but it turns out that songs like Ivan Splits In Two are a rare foppish joy.

The apostrophe is never explained, and the mystery is all the more welcome. Gentle, ignorant and charming. Just like you and me, dear reader.

>Kría Brekkan, and Drunken Escapades on Coronation Street

>My flatmate went to see the Arctic Monkeys last week, when they played at the Enormo-dome in Manchester. He walked out of the door at 6pm and returned nine hours later, with a story that defied belief, sanity and most other parameters of human behaviour.

It involved a chance meeting with the band, before proceeding to accompany them tearing things up in a variety of places: backstage (natch), all of the city’s most exclusive bars, a couple of house parties and finally, the pièce de résistance – invading the set of the country’s biggest soap opera, and causing havoc on the fake cobbled streets.

Although sad to have missed such debauchery, the thrill of hearing that rock ‘n’ roll excess is still in abundance filled me with a warm glow.

This same cosy warmth is present in Kría Brekkan’s utterly strange, achingly beautiful songs. Skywinnowing, a deft, dreamy, gorgeous song, chimes with children’s voices, and pulses with the heartbeats of imaginary animals.


Kría Brekkan‘s music is almost non-music – a phrase that ought to have ears pricked in readiness – her records being woven from scraps of human sound, ethereal humming noises and deep guttural hums. Songs such as Uterus Water are carefully patched together to form music that few of us have heard before – choral, angelic, soft.

Bjork, Sigur Rós, Múm, and now Kría BrekkanIceland must be the only country in the world where such off-kilter music is considered the norm. In Kría Brekkan, this cold, remote country has another musical maverick. Wonderful.

Photography by Stefan Sheethouse and Bianca

>Etienne Jaumet, and Paul McCartney’s Unusually Chestnut Brown Hair

I recently read an article claiming that Paul “L’Oreal Chestnut Brown Tint For Men” McCartney wrote The Long And Winding Road for Tom Jones, who then turned it down. Doubtlessly he was too busy struggling in and out of his tight trousers and brushing his chest hair to contemplate hollering a song written by a mere Beatle.

I find that just too hard to believe. OK, The Long And Winding Road is almost unbearably sentimental to listen to without spontaneously vomiting, but still, why would Tom say no?

Most interesting of all is the fact that Macca wrote songs for for others whilst in the Beatles.

But it seems all artists feel the need to spread their abilities, terrified by the prospect of confinement by the group aesthetic. Albeit, in Paul’s case, this confinement would have been from The bloody Beatles, a claustrophobic arrangement most people could probably just about live with.

Etienne Jaumet is one half of the interesting Zombie Zombie, is in a host of other bands, and yet still craves independence. Thankfully, I may add, as his LUST FOR SOLO GLORY has resulted in a cluster of sparse, delicate and addictive electronica.

Entropy is a deliciously restrained, techno shudder that ramps up the tension as it maintains its steady onward trundle. Inevitably, it fizzles and dies before any anticipated bassy explosion.

Etienne Jaumet – Entropy

While minimalism is key to Etienne’s music, he’s also an eclecticist: Madeleine is as a birdwatcher’s audio cast-off, a Commodore 64-obsessive’s record collection and an easy-listening connoisseur’s choice cut, all in one.

Perhaps Etienne Jaumet‘s music is a side-project, something made to pass the time or simply an audio investigation. Like, Whatever: the end result is curious, relaxing, and unexpected, in that order.

>Today’s New Band – Balún

The laptop has become an instrument in its own right. It’s not enough to have a guitar and the desire to clamber on stage any more – every other band now has a member standing stock still in the shadows at the back, pressing buttons on a laptop, like one half of a Pet Shop Boys tribute act.

This is fine in principle: computerised sounds are more than welcome when a band is enriched in a way unachievable with mere instruments. You’d think that a computer’s endless capacity for minutiae would mean that all bands would now sound massively different to one another; yet the majority of computerised sounds used by bands are still of the tagged-on glitchy sound-effect variety, betraying the ‘techy-mate-of-the-band’ roots of its involvement. Human error, not computer error.

I imagine Today’s New Band use a laptop or two, but Balún‘s seductively foggy sound suggests that they have got the balance right. Balún have realised that technology is only useful if the intent behind that use is carefully measured, and in songs like Minumina have produced small bubbles of quivering delicacy; bubbles ready to burst under the weight of their frivolity.

Minumina is the work of a band that is in control, and yet ready to allow the organic, and strictly un-computerised, element of the accidental evolve their music. This song is like one long, dreamy gasp of satisfaction, and A Surprise is a similarly spontaneous, elated rush of blood.

Balún are tentatively tiptoeing the paper-thin line of balance between creating sounds with the hands via traditional instruments and creating sounds with the mind via the infinite possibilities of the computer. It’s a tough task, but one they’re equal to. Slight delirium awaits. Listen here!

Photo by Jacob Hand (