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.


>Today’s New Band – Hong Kong In The 60’s

>Over the weekend I had a long, contorted conversation with a friend, discussing the relative merits of Steven Seagal’s mighty body of work. We both expressed fond teen memories of the moment when a topless Erika Eleniak popped out of a giant cake in front of a bemused-looking Seagal in Under Seige, and then agreed that Segal always wears a look of mild bemusement, possibly in the belief that it makes him look like a wise Sensei.

Our discussion also confirmed our fears that, with his string of increasingly absurd straight-to-DVD movies, such as Belly of The Beast and Today You Die, he is slowly turning into Troy McClure.

Given this solid grounding in the life’s work of The Seagal, you can imagine my barely-contained excitement with the news that his new Magnum Opus, Driven To Kill, in which he plays an ex-Russian mobster turned novelist, is about to show up in bargain bins worldwide.

To quell any chop-socky hyperventilation as I wait, Today’s New Band, Hong Kong In The 60’s, are here to place the metaphorical brown paper bag over my mouth and whisper soothingly reassuring words. Their songs arrive on a cool, sticky wave of Pina Colada – arch, relaxed, distant.

Footsteps – calm, pretty and sweet – is so delicate and persuasive that you’ll swoon like a teenage girl being introduced to the captain of the football team. Shadow Of The Bear is the exact music you’d like to hear if you were sitting by a stream, watching kingfishers dive as the sun sets. The Mermaids oozes kitch, keyboard-cool.

Hong Kong In The 60’s are unlike most bands in that they take a template – French 60’s lounge music – and by injecting just enough intelligence, fun and innovation, make it work for them (and us) without stumbling into elevator-musak territory. A brave, successful aim. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Debt Collector

>Last week, in the Grand National, I placed my annual horse racing bet, along with every other doomed once-yearly punter. And like every other once-yearly punter, I pick my horse by going for the ones with the best names, not the one with the best chance of winning.

A horse called Offshore Account took the brunt of my massive cash investment (a shiny £1 coin), its topical name catching my eye. Offshore Account spent most of the time leading the race, until, exhausted under the weight of a gamble that would never pay off, plummeted down the field, never to be seen again. This was a horse acutely aware of its own metaphorical existence.

Today’s New Band were picked because they sound good – but their name, Debt Collector, might be a little too close to home for some people right now. Perhaps they changed their name to fit in.

Songs like Well Sprung are world-weary and tired; the instruments only just dragging in time and dribble with lethargy. In comparison, Anxiety leaps out of the stalls, nimble and almost chipper – but not quite. These songs are enjoyed because of their slow gestation and sparse serving, like a good ragu.

Debt Collector – a glum reminder of financial ruin or a sweet ‘n’ lo-fi soundtrack to a slacker’s daydreaming? The latter rings truest. Listen here!

It’s Easter weekend now, and even bitter atheists will leap at a chance for a holiday. So we’ll be back next Tuesday with a bowel-tremblingly exciting week of ANBAD’s 1st birthday celebrations! Hooray!

>Playboy Playmates, Hi-Fi Geeks and Today’s New Band – The Furbelows

>I once found myself chatting to a man in a pub who worked in a Hi-Fi shop. He was the kind of guy you’d expect to find working in a Hi-Fi shop – gawky, not quite fully aware of other people’s personal space, that kind of thing. But he was nice, even if he was one of those audiophiles who obsess about sound quality over what’s actually being listened to in the first place. I got the feeling he listened to a lot of Bruce Springsteen. But I digress.

I asked him what songs they play to test the quality of new CD players, amps and speakers. He said that for quite a while now, they’d used Angel by Massive Attack, by virtue of its ridiculously heavy bassline, which, Hi-Fi geek speaking, separates the Separates from the Separates.

As much as I love Mezzanine, the album that opens ominously with Angel, I’m not sure if I’d want to take it out of context as an enjoyable bit of dubby music and make it into an everyday quasi-scientific experiment. Music is enjoyment for its own sake, isn’t it?

Speaking of enjoyment, music and experimentalism, here’s Today’s New Band, The Furbelows. “I’m a fun-loving, heat-seeking pleasure machine,” they howl excitedly on Pleasure Machine, a song that’s so much fun and so good, I was almost positive it was a cover, but if it is, I can’t find any traces of the original anywhere.

This can only mean it’s all theirs and this is a good thing. Pleasure Machine rips up the carpet, stomps its Cuban heeled feet into the floorboards and before you know it, has created a clammy, uninhibited party. It’s as simple, attractive and as much fun as a Playboy Playmate, and twice as pleasant to listen to.

After a start like that – and I assume that The Furbelows will start their gigs with it, not to mention every single public engagement forthwith; weddings, funerals and doctors appointments included – it’s not too surprising, or unfair, that none of their other songs match it for bombast, at least.

That’s not to say they’re no good, though – What Whiskey Is For is nearly the kind of song that Spiritualized would write if they had a sense of humour. But, if you want a blast of pure, eccentric, in-capital-letters-FUN, you could do no better than clicking here and putting Pleasure Machine on loop.

>Today’s New Band – Juni Järvi

>Matching your music with moods is vital. For example, if I was feeling hyperactive, maybe ex-New Band of the Day LA PRIEST would be a useful match, meeting my need for animal-call driven dance music head on. Simialrly, if I was feeling the need for wearing check padded shirts, perhaps 90’s-sounding ex-New Band of the Day favourites Record Hop would be my pick. Presumably then, if I needed to engage in mind-bogglingly awful faeces-related sex-fetishim, then everyone’s favourite Japanese thrash-mentalists Coprophagia would be my ‘go-to’ band.

Thus, having listened to today’s New Band of the Day, Sweden’s Juni Järvi, I know have my perfect sounds for those dreamy, lounging-whilst-wearing-a-safari-suit-sipping-a-Martini- in-the-mid-1960’s days that we all indulge in now and again. His MySpace page is relaxed to the point of horizontal, and the tunes that list slowly to your ears are perfect for just letting the world slip slowly by, whilst raising a hopeful eyebrow at passing members of the opposite sex.

Stylised, maybe; but lovely, nonetheless. If We Just Want To is cheeky and wide-eyed, with vocals that are slightly reminiscant of Lou Reed. Maybe Lou Swede is a better description, bearing in mind nationalities and such-and-such. Falling Down is slightly reminiscent of the song Falling from Twin Peaks, and so can be labelled Good Stuff – mildly melancholic but happy. Possibly like Sweden itself.

Don’t forget, if you have a great band we should listen to and put on A New Band A Day, email me and tell me all about it. We listen to every band you suggest – promise!

Subscribe to receive ANBAD by email every day right here!