>In The City Special: Ou Est Le Swimming Pool

At a music convention like In The City, rumour and hype swirl together to form a noxious fog that can engulf even the most seasoned and cynical new band seeker. Avoiding bands surrounded by hype is one of the basic rules of following rock music, and yet I willingly traipsed along to see two of the main ‘buzz’ bands, drunk on a few begrudging words of encouragement from a middle aged A&R man.

The club was packed on both occasions. One of these bands was actually cheered onto stage before they had even played a note, and yet when their guitars were actually plugged in, they were disappointingly risk-free, and average at best. So when I found myself in another crush of haircuts and PR sweat, I expected little. Half an hour later, after Ou Est Le Swimming Pool had finished, I still wasn’t sure if they were the best or worst band I’d ever seen.

On reflection, I realised that this was the best reaction I could have hoped for. Even ignoring their linguistically challenged of-the-moment name, the band is crammed with weird, admirable anomalies.

The two keyboard players looked like a before-and-after picture of a Pet Shop Boy who’d drunk a pint of LSD. One was in a geography teacher’s grey suit, and the other sported a moustache, vomit-coloured shirt, and a vividly coloured scarf wrapped around his head. They both played thrillingly big music; stabbing chords and huge drumbeats.

Contrast them with the two singers who emerge from the shadows, one a Burberry-clad Simon Le Bon mini-me, the other a boyband escapee. They both sing with a sincerity and passion that jars hard against a band set-up that is so post-ironic it has become pre-irony, and thus sincerity. Clever.

The response from everyone who saw them was the same: bewilderment and then a creeping realisation that Ou Est Le Swimming Pool were the most memorable band of In The City.

I could describe the songs to you as usual, but for once, I don’t think words could do them justice. Listen for yourself and feel a band more polarised than a trucker’s Aviators.

>Today’s New Band – Run DMT

My friend Martin is also a friend of The Lines, a rather good band from the unfashionable West Midlands. A disproportionate number of Britain’s bands come from the West Midlands (Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath to name two), partly, I always assume, because being in a band is a good way to get out of there.

Martin recently joined the band on a road trip to play in a festival in Austria, and got to say things like, “I’m with the band,” to girls, pester Jarvis Cocker backstage and live like a rock star. He told me a number of stories that would scare your mother, all of which featured heavy drinking and an enjoyable lack of morals, cleanliness and social etiquette.

Such is the life of a hard-working rock band. I often wonder whether the characteristics of any given band is related to their behind-the-scenes behaviour. If this is true, then I worry for Today’s New Band, Run DMT, whose schizophrenic music is a jumble of wired creativity.

Run DMT don’t take music to bits as much as crazily stomp all over it. Songs like the pun-gasmically named Tequila Mockingbird are so newborn and rough that they sound as if they have been streamed directly from their creator’s mind. Though hardly consisting of any more than sound of a drumkit falling down the stairs, it is fascinating, wild and skewed.

Dramatics Mix (Fuck) is an Aphex twin B-side slowed down to a tenth of its normal speed, groaning, squealing and plucking tortuously, and then rebirthing itself over and over. Let It Load is a wild banjo shoot-out, and the title of the song Mad Weed, a slow, blindingly bright chill-shimmer, might hint to the source of such invention.

Run DMT are daring, imaginative and downright bizarre. Their songs sound like they were born after some sort of perverse musical DNA-splicing experiments, or if your iPod could separate individual sounds from a million songs and then shuffle-play ten of them at once. Listen – it’ll be an exhilarating brush with real creativity.

**Note: A worthy, wierd recipient of an ANBAD ‘Actual Brilliance’ tag.**

>Today’s New Band – Responsible Monster

>When the Brit Awards come around every year, the same old stories get hauled out by the media, like guilty schoolboys in front of the headmaster. The time when Jarvis flapped his buttocks at Michael Jackson. The time when one of the professional anarchists from Chumbawumba threw a bucket of water over the deputy Prime Minister. The time when the KLF teamed up with Extreme Noize Terror, shot blanks at the audience with a machine gun, and dumped a dead sheep on the steps of the venue.

All of those earth-shattering middle-fingers to The Man occurred over a decade ago, but still lend The Brit Awards an edge that its bland, uber-corporate reality doesn’t deserve at all. When this year’s annual back-slapping parade took place, pleasingly, it was tedious, dull and uneventful – hopefully to the point that people will stop caring so much in the future.

The only high point was the Pet Shop Boy‘s medley of hits at the end, which even the combined efforts of Lady Gaga and Brandon Flowers couldn’t ruin. The first ever albums that I obsessively listened to as an 8-year old were the Pet Shop Boys’ Please and Introspective, which occupied both sides of a TDK C90 tape. The songs formed my musical grounding, and really, looking back, I’m relieved that it was songs like It’s A Sin and Suburbia and not any other late 80’s pop nonsense.

I don’t know exactly what influenced Today’s New Band, Responsible Monster, but from the sheer unusual nature of their insistently worrying sound, I’d hesitantly guess that it was more Ted Bundy than Bros.

Songs like Darwin revel in some sort of delightful confusion, lingering threateningly between slick funk, boisterously broken clank-pop and then vocal stylings of a deranged mass-murderer. It’s a sprawling, relentless and inventive 8-minute journey into someone’s personal hell – albeit a hell with really lovely furnishings, table service and a sprinkling of concerned-looking Page 3 girls.

Doll Bride Mask is either the first ever recording of the voices in a serial killer’s head, or simply the music he’d listen to to get pumped before another killing spree. Dense, nicely incoherent and filled with contorted, afflicted noises and beats, it reveals that Responsible Monster is in full control of his creative faculties, if nothing else.

Responsible Monster: inventive to the point of sonic schizophrenia and bizarre enough to have you glancing over your shoulder. Mood music for murderers. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Baby Long Legs PLUS! U2-mageddon!

>Hooray! U2 have got a new single out! It’s so great that I’m going to buy the album on the day it comes out! They totally rock, and Boneo is, like, a genuine rock star, yeah?

OK – that bit was for all the estate agents who were reading A New Band A Day by mistake. It’s safe to assume that they’ve jumped into their Audi TTs and are heading off to their local record store* to wait to buy a copy. Anyway, guess what? The new single sucks and blows at the same time. Steel yourself and listen to it here. (Done? Feeling dirty? Here’s something brilliant to compensate.)

*the supermarket

So, in yet another land-grab of public consciousness, U2 have managed to rip off not only Subterranean Homesick Blues by His Bobliness but also (say it ain’t so!) Dirty Boots by Sonic Freaking Youth. The horror, the horror.

Before, they’d at least stuck to the tried-and-tested routine of just using delay pedals, being dreadfully bland and knuckle-bitingly over-earnest. But here, in their most audacious, crafty, awful move yet, they’ve gone for the credible jugular.

Fortunately, for those of us who can actually hear normally, it’s obviously a clunker of epic proportions. Expect to hear it on drab local radio, everywhere soon. Don’t expect to hear Today’s New Band, Baby Long Legs, on AOR FM any time soon, because life just isn’t fair like that.

Just like Sweden (see yesterday’s new band), Sheffield seems to be squeezing out good new bands, one after the other, like sausages from a machine. Except that Baby Long Legs are filled with quality ingredients, with no pig anus, eyelid or ear in sight.

Floor Turtle, mixes the hitherto unexplored combination of a huge – no, epic – howling riff and the swanny whistle to create a touching song about the shelliest of reptiles. There are too few songs about turtles, and this goes some of the way to redress the balance.

Today, the only experience most people have of the true, life-affirming squeal of a rock solo is while playing Guitar Hero on the Xbox. Hopefully No-One’s Around will have those pasty teenage boys dispatching their plastic guitar-shaped controllers in favour of the real thing, combining bitchin’ guitar wandering with disconcertingly familiar musings on love’s quirks to be a suspiciously true-sounding love song.

Baby Long Legs remind us that all of the world’s mystery, joys and – GASP! – even life itself are contained in one shuddering Les Paul screech. That their songs are throwaway, catchy and straight faced only seals the deal. Supremely fun, serious and silly all at once. Rock out here!

>Today’s New Band – The Hopeful Spaztiks PLUS! Paranoia!


Isn’t it funny how things work out? Tupac Shakur started out as a bit-part player on lunatic funk-drenched hip-hoppers Digital Underground. Listen to their brilliant first album, Sex Packets, and you’ll occasionally hear bursts of the voice that went on to release a bewildering number of albums – most of them posthumously.
Tricky was once just a voice too – albeit a similarly distinct one – on the first two Massive Attack albums. He then left, in mild acrimony, recycled a couple of his lyrics from his Massive Attack days, added some awkward noises, and emerged with Maxinquaye – one of the most affecting, original slices of unusual, paranoid fuzzy noise ever.
It was drenched in mythical hype – stories of journalists being forced to make copies at gunpoint and the like circulated wildly in these pre-internet days. The review copies were supposedly robed in a velvet case which was in turn sealed into a miniature plastic bodybag. The album was set up for a huge, underwhelming fall. It didn’t come. It’s a woozy, confused masterpiece.
Hype is always a difficult card to play. Raving about a band too much, however truly you may mean what you say, makes you and them appear misguided and desperate. I may be both of those things, but I’d hate to drag a good new band down with me. So if praise isn’t too forthcoming about Today’s New Band, it’s not because they’re not super-ace (they are), but because I’m trying to under-hype them, if that’s possible.
The Hopeful Spaztiks round off an impressively diverse month on A New Band A Day in cranky style. They’re a band who can maintain five different musical points of view at once, and flit between them all. Song Aquatic sounds like a toy racing car, and swerves like one too, veering over a number of electro cliffs in the process.
Cup Of is deranged enough to summon up the spirit of Level 42, sneaking in the 80’s most estate-agent-friendly instrument – the slap-bass – and make it work. Hail ping-pongs appropriate noises off your confused brain, resetting your innate sense of rhythm to synchronise with their warped vision.
The Hopeful Spaztiks’ sound like the prettily naive work of complete novices given shape, coherence and funk by a mysterious guiding hand. They straddle looseness and tightness like a before-and-after photograph of a hanging. Dangle with them, here!

PS – Are you the kind of person that NEEDS TO KNOW WHAT EVERYONE’S DOING ALL OF THE TIME? Then get yourself hooked up to the ANBAD Twitter feed!

>Today’s New Band – Robot Ninja Dinosaur Bastards – IT’S A DINOSAUR DOUBLE BILL!

>Here at A New Band A Day, we’re not beyond using mindless gimmicks to try and force a coherent thread through goings-on here occasionally. As such – welcome to the A NEW BAND A DAY DINOSAUR-THEMED BANDS DOUBLE BILL! That’s right folks, after yesterday’s dazzlingly Bleep-osaurs Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, welcome with open claws today’s new band, Robot Ninja Dinosaur Bastards!

As if dinosaurs couldn’t get any more knee-tremblingly awesome, these guys are not only fearsome fossilised reptiles, but they’re also Robotic Ninjas! Who are Bastards too! Truly, these guys know what people want – stylised violence, mechanisation, extinction, cruelty – and how to name a band accordingly. As we know, approximately 50% of what makes a band great are non-musical elements such as the name. Thus, Robot Ninja Dinosaur Bastards – say it to yourself out loud, go on – are halfway there.

In terms of the music, they’re also brilliant. Hell Bent On Destruction is what Timbaland’s grammar-destroying ‘The Way I Are’ would sound like if re-recorded by crazy guitar-wielding maniacs. Come and Get Demented is a breathless nutjob does-what-it-says-on-the-tin song, perfect for those night when you just want to go and do just that. If you can’t picture yourself throwing yourself around a dark room without care for yourself or others, you’re not imagining hard enough how AWESOME an actual Robot Ninja Dinosaur Bastard would be.

Listen to their mentalist brain-melting tunes on their MySpace page here