>Today’s New Band – Cactapuss

>If you’ve ever procrastinated over anything at all, you’ll know that the associated frustrations of long-term hesitation envelops your mind like a big, stupid bobble-hat with the word ‘indecisive (or is he?)’ sewn on the front. ‘Paralysis through analysis’, the Manic Street Preachers sang on their ace ’96 B-side Dead Trees and Traffic Islands.

Something I find endlessly admirable is the verve and determination of young bands when they start out. Cynics, older minds and failures will label this as youthful naivety, and, if you cast a lazy eye over the sheer number of new bands all fighting for attention, it’s tempting to agree.

But that would be to side with the middle-aged, middle-management, MOR mindset and a tacit admission of the acceptability of mediocrity. Raise your glass, hat or an eyebrow to all the wide-eyed and ambitious youths who blunder over hesitance and shoot for the stars, however unlikely their journey may be.

Today’s New Band, Cactapuss, like their peers, presumably have one eye on the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll of the now and one on the NME cover, number one album and Top Of The Pops appearance of the future. Good. If bands didn’t think like that, we’d end up with more Keanes.

If you were trapped in a lift, but were happy to stay entombed because the lift music was so good, then Cactapuss are all yours. Their music is unassuming, but clever and engaging; the gentle, kind and fun sound that you’d like soundtracking the film of your life.

Wigbar, complete with gentle bloops, doo-doo-doo vocals and a tune you’ll be humming as you’re cooking tea later this evening, is a breezy, light, whistling slice of whimsy. Theme From Stuart And The Ants starts as the bastardised car-chase music from a ’70s cop movie and then cranks up the urgency with funk organs, rolling drums and a driving bassline.

Cactapuss are another of those bands who can draw on 50-odd years of pop music tricks and hooks to create something new/old, sounds that’ll trigger memories you’d forgotten. Listen here, and enjoy whilst indulging in lovely C90 nostalgia (you’ll see).

>Today’s New Band – GOLD PANDA

>Today’s New Band might well garner tons of critical acclaim – and worse, may be burdened with being flavour-of-the-month cool. It’d be a shame, because Gold Panda makes music that deserves to end up in better places than an audio montage on Skins.

Making music from bits and pieces of other things is nothing new, but most attempts just serve to reveal the lack of artistry on the part of the composer, leaving us with ham-fisted cobbled-together mental chewing gum. Gold Panda, however, has got it right.

In Long Vacation, vividly hear a song so infused with the clarity of its own vision that it pulses with life. Here, Gold Panda is sweetly massaging your mind with his sounds and then periodically pricking your attention to make sure you give him your full attention.

Quitters Raga is a fractured song-morsel, taking droning Eastern music and cracking it into bits, before lovingly reassembling it so that it is almost the same as before – but not quite. Like Totally, minimal to the point of almost resembling background noise, fades in from and back to silence so subtly that you won’t realises you’ve just heard something lovely until it has gone.

Gold Panda dips his hands into God’s Black Binliner of Music, pulls out the scraps most people would leave behind, and forces them to coagulate into something smooth, soft and surprising. A bit like a deep-fried Mars Bar. Except that listening to Gold Panda won’t give you heart disease. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Q Without U


As anyone who has spent time stuck in a caravan on a rainy week in Wales will know, Scrabble is the kind of game that only people with giant intellects can really play. All the rest of us just take part, and grind our teeth with frustration as our opponent beats your last move of “dog” with “onomatopoeic”, or similar.

That said, these insufferable people are directly responsible for the invention of the video game, allowing us mouth-breathers to be victorious at something, so perhaps they can be spared from utter hatred. Either way, Scrabble champs would take a situation where they were faced with the dreaded “Q” tile in their stride. They’ve memorised the list of all words spelt using Q without U, you see. Yes, there are 24 of them. No, you won’t know what they mean, or ever need to use them. Or know how to.

For those of us with social lives, the only instance of Q without U that will be of any importance is Today’s New Band. From Glasgow, like just about every other band of any interest, Q Without U meld super-tuneful guitar rock with whizzy synths into punchy pop songs that, like in ace tune The Deficit Model, tread on the right side of traditional rock without descending into Runrig hell. So, melodic, but not drab, and not taking the easy route. Songs like Our Luck Is A Prostitute are quirky enough, with its soaring chorus, to soar a bit before floating gently back to earth.

Oh, and they say that they’re “Like the shit bits of your favourite band”, which is a good enough starting point for me.

Listen to their songs on their Myspace page here!

>Today’s New Band – The Alibies

>I gave myself an alibi once, when officers from Operation Ore came knocking at my door*. However, with that minor discretion now behind me, I can fully turn my attention to the quirky electro-pop of The Alibies.

They’re a bit like a fey version of fellow Scandinavian mentallists The Knife, but The Alibiesare slightly camper and exhibit slightly more unusual humour. This is a good thing. Their tunes sound like they were made in a bedroom by two friends brought together by a dislike of normality. This is also a good thing. Frighteningly, they are unsigned as of yet, which probably says more about record companies’ reluctance to send A&R men to their hometown of Ylivieska, Pohjois-Pohjanmaa. And yes, that is a real place – in Finland, apparently. It also has an incredible score of 61 in Scrabble.

Anyway, check out the fantastic “Burn Brightly” on their Myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/thealibies

The other songs are great too, but Burn Brightly sounds like someone locked Kraftwerk, Adam And The Ants and Erasure in a small room and then chucked a few grenades in, to see what would happen. If anyone has a wanton disregard for human life and wants to conduct this experiment for real, drop us an email to let us know how it went.

*for the benefit of mob-happy morons: this is a joke