Electric Sunset – Softer Than Ice Cream

I got drunk last night. I didn’t mean to, but when you go to a party sometimes you just become a victim of circumstance. The party was in a swanky 11th floor apartment, with a killer view over this moderately fair city of Manchester.

Drinking sangria and watching the sunset, I mused out loud that I’d spent a vastly disproportionate amount of my time watching the sun set, but that none of it was wasted. A chorus of voices agreed. We all sighed, pondered for a moment on life’s transience, and then got back to the business in hand: gulping sweet booze-juice and watching the sky turn red.

Clearly Electric Sunset know the drill. Songs like Soda are awash with the calm forcefulness that the simple act of watching the sun drop over the horizon instills.

Electric Sunset // Soda

Appropriately, Soda fizzes and sloshes – soft, syrupy and dizzying, whilst maintaining a subdued, sleepy warmth.

The best sunset I ever saw was in Aberystwyth. The room I was in was flooded with dense 0range light. The light had weight – like it could have been cut like a slab of butter. Everything was right with life.


Tim and Sam’s Tim and The Sam Band With Tim and Sam *gasp for breath*

The act of band naming is a wade through a mire that, befittingly, makes either no difference or all the difference in the world to the band in question.

We all know that the competition for Worst Named Band is fiercely fought between Puddle Of Mud and Nickleback, both of whom managed to scrape the barrel stencilled ‘Utterly Facetious’ in their bids for the prize.

The recent craze for punctuation in band names – see Los Campesinos!, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. etc – is, sadly, an ongoing phenomenon, though admittedly, it looked  pretty zingy when Godspeed You! Black Emperor did it. Not for the first time, !!! are probably wholly to blame.

It’s hard not to conclude that Tim and Sam’s Tim and The Sam Band With Tim and Sam took one look at the whole messy process and decided that twin attacks of length and complexity would railroad any attention their way – and they were right.

Music writers, fans and radio DJs the world over will agonize thus – do you refer to them by their full name, leaving the speaker blue in the face, or use the acronym from hell – TASTATSBWTAS? Pity the teenage super-fan who wants to scrawl the band’s name onto the cover of their schoolbook.

Tim and Sam’s Tim and The Sam Band With Tim and Sam // Join The Dots

Join The Dots is so warm and blissful, it aches. It’s a conflation of all your favourite summertime experiences – the dense orange heat of a midnight beach bonfire; laying back in deep, soft, shaggy grass and lazily looking at clouds; paddling in a shallow stream; holding hands in the heat. Happiness.

There is a Tim, but there is no Sam. According to Glockenspiel-basher Massimo, the band refer to themselves as Tim and Sam, which to these eyes is a cop-out of epic proportions.

Never mind. Their music is a cosy, summery delight. This is more important.


Photography by peterhp.co.uk

>Erland and The Carnival: A (Very) Northern Soul

How weird. Feeding a Spotify addiction is a delicate task, and this time it was via nostalgic meandering around some youthful favourites. Rediscovering The Verve‘s druggy, droney, sprawling A Northern Soul was a thrill, and it sounds as happily wasteful, internal and expressive as ever.

And then here’s Erland and The Carnival – and look who’s listed #1, primetime and centre, on the list of band members: hello, Simon Tong, from The Verve. It’s an understandable decision – people will recognise his name over that of Orcadian Erland Cooper’s – but it’s Erland who perhaps ought to be taking just as many plaudits.

The songs he sings are sweet, gentle and kind, like the distant uncle you’ll make annual chit-chat with over Christmas. Songs like Was You Ever See have the soft, strange and remote feel of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci‘s nicest songs. Was You Ever See finds a golden, warm moment of life and commits it to song; fragile, thin, lovable.

Erland and The CarnivalMy Name Is Carnival (UPDATE: Changed at record company’s request)

Songs like these are fairly rare – mainstream enough to connect, quirky enough to sate the defiantly left-leaning. There’s a lovely lightness of touch on their recordings – Simon Tong’s influence, maybe. Gorky’s almost made the leap to the big time, but were just that little bit too out there to entice the general public any closer. Maybe Erland & co. can land feet first. Here’s hoping.

>Today’s New Band – Chicken Feed

Now, how to end the week? In a blaze of crucfyingly harsh Thrash/Dubstep-hybrid noise? Or a sub-heartbeat soundscape flutter? Look, I’m lying: the amount of planning that goes into ANBAD could be etched onto the back of a gnat, and yet this haphazard approach works more often than not.

For example – Today’s New Band, Chicken Feed, make music that’s gossamer-thin, delicate and sugary: it turns out that they’re the perfect week-ending wind-down soundtrack. If you were planning a big night out, I’m sorry. But a good snooze is just as cool, yeah?

Duck Egg Diner, emerging from a reverb-burble, plays at deliberate half-speed; laconic, shiny and bright. It’s the song that says, Aloha, Hawaii – we’re here to relax in egg-yellow sunshine until we sink into the sand and become one with the hot white granules. Lights Out slurps at Hazel Mills’ lyrics, and covers them in a dribble of over-friendly bleeping.

Chicken Feed are another good example of today’s new music; in design and execution. Low on personnel and outside influence, Chicken Feed are free to create, create, create. We listeners reap the rewards. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Married To The Sea

>Here’s a life lesson or two – coming back to a stereotypically grey and drippy Manchester after spending 5 days dozing in assorted Madrileno plazas is a bit of a shock to a now cosily red-wine-‘n’-chorizo-addled system. But just as shocking was the ear-shredding, wholeheartedly MOR music to be heard everywhere, in a city that I thought too vibrant, alive and vibrant (again) for this kind of aural horror.

I daren’t go into too much detail, but if you want to spend a week bombarded with 15-year old Mike and The Mechanics songs that you were only to glad to have forgotten, you now know where to scratch that itch.

Similarly, if you want to dance until dawn to Iberian-Europop hits that you thought were to stereotypical to be actually enjoyed by Spaniards themselves, count yourself as wrong, buy a stiff drink (you’ll need it) and hit the floor.

So Today’s New Band, Married To The Sea, are in a somewhat privileged position – all they need to do is write a song that doesn’t sound like the Macarena, and I’d hug them for a week. Fortunately, they do more than that, making music that’s happy and lethargic.

If you manage to listen to Crash Hams without thinking of Pavement, then you, sir, are a liar and fraud. It’s important to note, though, that Married To The Sea don’t simply crib from Stockton, California‘s finest, but instead use their crabby, splintered approach to rock as a starting point, and freewheel off to more wholesome rock places.

Tmmrw I’ll Do The Right Thing is drenched with the warmth of a summer sunset, its associated relaxation, and the slow movement of thoughts through your sleepy brain. If you’ve ever delayed a decision manana, manana, then you’ll connect readily.

Married To The Sea have songs that can take your mind to a happy place. This is good. Banishing Genesis spin-off bands from my mind is even better. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – Ivan Campo PLUS! Killing wildlife!

>There have been a few songs that, on the first hearing, the sudden realisation that what I was listening to was so good, so head-spinningly wonderful, so new, that I’ve stopped whatever I’m doing just to listen, in a happy music-coma. Off the top of my head, five of the songs that have lead to this are:

Temptation by New Order
Common People by Pulp
Bigmouth Strikes Again by The Smiths
I Love You ‘Cause I Have To by Dogs Die in Hot Cars
Leg End In His Own Boots by Ned’s Atomic Dustbin

OK, the last one’s a joke. But the rest are about right. When I first heard Temptation, I had to rewind the tape after three minutes because I’d enjoyed it so much, and I couldn’t wait to get to the end to hear it again. I was driving through country lanes when I heard I Love You ‘Cause I Have To, and after almost distractedly running over a pheasant, had to pull over to safely drum along on the steering wheel.

I’m willing to pin the blame for such rank behavioural idiocy onto the dizzying qualities of such stupendously good music. Therefore, perhaps A New Band A Day should have a small yellow and black warning sign, similar to ones in factories that say ‘Do not operate this machinery under the influence of alcohol’.

Today’s New Band, Ivan Campo, might not make your car hurtle towards game birds, but – WARNING – foot tapping may spontaneously occur. They’re named after the impressively-curly-haired footballer who has played for wildly differing teams. There are not many players who have pulled on the shirts of Real Madrid and Bolton Wanderers.

In this respect the band share some similarity with the man, as their songs are sweetly cute one minute (The Curse), and breezily folky the next (The Lotus Eater). Darling Diva is a rambling love song that takes the musical equivalent of a happy stroll down a beach with its loved one, but as the song is punctuated with the bleeping of a digital watch, it occurs that something isn’t quite as rosy as it seemed – “Something just doesn’t quite add up/I smell a rat…”

Ivan Campo‘s band logo is a bastardisation of the one for Malibu rum. Despite coming from dreary Preston, their sound is also summery, warm and intoxicating. Mmmm, easy-going. Listen here!

>Today’s New Band – The Very Most

>GIMMICKS! Here at A New Band A Day, we love them – to the point that we aren’t afraid of using cheap, near-moronic devices ourselves in an attempt to crowbar some variety into our shallow lives. Anything like that in the world of rock ‘n’ pop is worth a go, I suppose, and if it works and raises the profile of a good band, all the better. So: Today’s New Band, The Very Most, are giving away a free custom song with every purchase of their new album until the end of August. You tell them what you want the song to be about,and they’ll write it.

This is a good deal, assuming you like their music. There’s no point getting a song written about you and your life-long Roxette obsession if the band doing it is Extreme Noise Terror, for example. So here’s the good news – The Very Most are a good band, with charm and panache to spare. Their songs are as sweet and carefully constructed as a child’s model treehouse made of Lego. “Why don’t you call the cops on me?” they sing, in the similarly-named song, which may or may not explore the banality of children’s playground taunts.

Save the most or your reserves of pleasant surprise for their Custom Songs though – you might hook yourself a minor classic. MP3Hugger is quiet noise-rock, with a soft fuzz leeching through the indie-pop pleasantness just near the end. It’s a delicate delight – a quick, gentle fog of guitar and slightly cryptic lyrics. It’s on their MySpace page here. A whole album of songs written on the suggestions of fans and outsiders would be an interesting proposition. On the strength of MP3Hugger, I hope they consider it.

I suppose the only danger of a gimmick like that is that The Very Most might become ‘that band that writes free songs about you’ – but frankly, if it ropes in a few idiots who can’t look past that and recognise a good band when one is poking them in the ear, then it’s no loss. At very least, they’ll sell more records and have more people hearing their lovely songs, and that’s the most important thing. Good marketing is the new Rock ‘n’ Roll/Stand-Up Comedy/Black/Whatever. Hooray! Listen to their songs and getcha free song here!

>Today’s New Band – Genod Droog

>What is it that makes us view Welsh bands differently? Even when a song from the litany of fabulous Welsh bands such as Super Furry Animals and Gorky’s Zygotic Munki sing in English, there’s something indefinable that separates them from their British counterparts, at least. Today’s new band, Genod Droog, also have this – with the twinkly space-yness of Gorky’s and the full-on mentalism found in the Furries‘ crazier moments.

Oh, and they’re hip-hop. Yup, and rapping fits Welsh as well as it does French: brilliantly. While this might be a novelty enough to just to hear it in action, Genod Droog have tunes in spades too. Listen to Gwn Tatws on their MySpage page and try and stop yourself from singing along in your best attempt at Welsh while their blend of Psych-Rock-Hip-Hop bombards your ears. Then marvel that the song is about veg of champions – the potato (at least I think so; my very basic knowledge of Welsh is fallable).

Best of all is Bomiwch y Byd – the kind of song that reeks of summertime and would sound best if heard sitting a sunny Welsh field, sipping a cider. Fortunately for us mere mortals, this will be possible soon – they’re playing a bunch of gigs around the fantastic Welsh summer festival circuit. Welsh bands seem to have an innate ability to do the simple stuff – i.e. tunes – and making it work well, weirdly, and wonderfully. Genod Droog do this too – listen now and then catch them if you can.

Finally, another ANBAD radio show will be up very soon, over the weekend, barring technical mishaps/Internet hell/death. Marvel at its glory! Listen to voices talk in between this week’s greatest songs! Free! All those things – and more!

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!