Young Hunting – Youth and Young Youth-hood

I’m no psychologist, but new bands seem to be suffering a collective existential crisis. Apparently, the skin-crawling realisation that they won’t be around forever has just simultaneously pinged into their mental in-boxes.

It’s gratifying to note that, instead of the bottom dropping out of their worlds, the bands have initiated a surprisingly inventive work-around: to fool themselves – and everyone else – by creating band names that imply juvenility.

Just look at the recent glut: the wonderful Youthless, the recently re-named Youth, Manchester’s Young British Artists, and now, joining in the fun: Los Angeles’ Young Hunting.

Songs like Into Yr Mind imply anything but naivety. If this song was any more misty and billowing, LAX air traffic control would need to be warned. There’s a specific but maddeningly intangible skill in creating a song that seems to be without either beginning or end and yet is so hopelessly engaging.

Indeed, evidence of any structure is thin on the ground, and this is the basis of Into Yr Mind‘s anaesthetised seductiveness. Enveloping, expansive and breathy, time seems to linger whilst the song passes, and by the end, they won’t be the only ones gasping for air.

The spirit of youth with wise heads and hearts. Perhaps Young Hunting are onto something. Delicious.

Photo: Stevie Raya

The Horn The Hunt, Sardines and Polymaths

I saw Caribou last night in Manchester. The fact that I saw him at all was a minor triumph of extended haggling with the doorstaff, because the venue was packed sardine-tight with the usual array of haircuts, too-cool-for-schoolers and louts that populate ‘buzz’ gigs.

Still, it was worth it: ANBAD alumni Gold Panda was supporting, noisily, and the audience was mesmerised by both his heavy, muddy beats and his woolly panda-hat.

Caribou themselves were delicious – swirling and deft tunes with, alternately, dreamy, delicate punctuations and squelchy, heavy, house synth noises.

Songs were built, looped, dropped and reassembled with consummate skill. Ringleader Dan Snaith played, variably, guitars, drums, keyboards and percussion – a true musical polymath.

The Horn The Hunt maintain a similar approach in their dexterous, and yet pleasingly raw, songs. The songs, you feel, are constructed carefully, and then allowed to crumble around the edges. The result is gloriously sinewy, overblown songs like The Valley.

The Horn The Hunt // The Valley

Overblown but restrained, The Valley satisfies the listener in all manner of ways. Rumbustious and tactile, clanking and delicate; there are sounds here that evoke all manner of feelings – some troubling, some warm, some white-light-bright.

The Horn The Hunt crystallise the mania of the creative process into one shimmering, glittering moment of brilliance. Excellent.

>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 – The Counterpoint

>Have you ever watched a group of Spanish men cook? It’s a carefully plotted exercise, which can be broken down as follows: 50% lounging, chatting and keeping generally relaxed to the point of muscle deterioration, 22% talking lecherously about women, 2% fussing with a knife and 1% cooking. I partook in this culinary ritual recently, and thoroughly enjoyed it – though it did alter any preconceptions I had of a ‘quick snack’, which is how it was advertised to me.

I don’t know what frame of mind one would be in when writing a song titled Vaginal Tendancies, but I imagine a similar laissez-faire spirit endures. Which makes Today’s New Band, The Counterpoint, are, at the very least, a curiosity.

Imagine a grunge cod-funk lounge band and you’re only part of the way there. Guitars bandsaw and grunt in small doses, but leave plenty of room for finger snappin’ and foot tappin’.

I may be wrong – I hope I’m not – but I’m sure that one of their lyrics runs, “You know you’re looking so nice/ Let me make up your latte – you know I do it just right,” sentiments which make the mind boggle and the heart weep. Song The Bandit utilises the deepest, gruntiest basso voice, and is all the better for its ridiculousness.

The Counterpoint make music that’ll make you scrawl “Pearl Jam 4 Eva” on your cashmere cardigan. Smoooooth – and rough. I’m not sure if they’re for real or not, and don’t care either. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – She’s Hit

>One of the most important, and thus one of the most difficult and enigmatic, jobs of any band is to grab the attention of everyone else. For ‘everyone else‘, read ‘record buying public‘. For ‘record buying public‘, read ‘our tickets out of these drab desk jobs and into rock fantasy land‘.

Anyway – Today’s New Band, She’s Hit, achieved this feat through the most unlikely of sources – a comically mis-read URL. Their Myspace address is – and if you can’t spot the bowel-movement-from-hell gag in that, the you, sir, are the sort of person who sat at the front of class and tutted loudly to please the teacher when someone farted in class.
So, attention duly grabbed, She’s Hit quickly dispel any Glaswegian scat fetishism worries with their louche, relaxed and dirty sound.
Part One begins with a trapped-CD buzz, slouches into a lo-fi, lo-down, tinny rock slumber, and then drifts into a lovely noise-fuzz-screech. Black Transistor Nightmares is close to being Jesus-and-Mary-Chain-meets-Dick-Dale surf rock, but studded with sinister and creepy noise.
She’s Hit: the sound guitars would make if they could shrug their shoulders and sigh loudly. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Sleepy Sun

>I woke up this morning with a sore head and a note with a code-number on it, written in my handwriting. I was in a room I didn’t recognise and, looking out of the window, in a part of town I didn’t know.

As the memories of the previous night’s celebration with some Spanish Barcelona-supporting friends slowly returned, I pulled on my clothes, realised the code was needed to get through the security gate out of the apartment block, and tried to figure out how to reach ANBAD Towers.

Taking a wild directional gamble, I travelled across the city on a completely alien route. I passed legions of grey-suited officinistas clutching onto cardboard cups of sweet coffee for dear life; young lawyers wearing double-breasted suits, desperate to disappear amongst anonymous legal peers; nervous men in their best clothes queueing outside the army recruiting centre.

My decision to sleep on the floor of friends (Gracias Alex, Diego and Victor) allowed me to see Manchester with new, if bleary, eyes. Bleary, you say? How about Today’s New Band, Sleepy Sun, who are the aural equivalent of a slow, hungover morning in bed.

Song Sleepy Son lurks, the guitar leering and growling. The songs lurches, creeps and surges with the fuzzy confidence drawn from that morning-after-a-successful-night-before feeling. New Age is 50% feedback-shriek and 50% feline prowl.

Sleepy Sun are appropriate for hungover times, come-down times and dreamtimes. Cosy, awkward, glancing backwards, forwards and drifting with considered aimlessness, if they don’t slide slowly into your day, nothing will. Listen here!

Photograph by Brett Wilde

>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!