>Today’s New Band – The Monroe Transfer PLUS! Yet more darts!

>Another week, another World Darts Final. It seems like it’s all that’s on TV these days. This weekend it was the PDA – or was it the BDO – version of the world title, and yet another 4 hours of my life was summarily dispatched watching two arrows-throwing titans of the sport battle it out at the oche.

There’s something very Zen about watching the grim determination on the faces of two fat, sweating men as they throw darts as an audience of drunks cheers them on. Even more thrilling is watching this in the knowledge that they could legitimately stand alongside Usain Bolt and Christiano Ronaldo as athletes at the pinnacle of their chosen sport. That said, I don’t expect to see Ted “The Count” Hankie appearing with Tiger Woods and Roger Federer in an advert for Gillette anytime soon.

If Darts is simple, unrefined and to the point (arf!), then Today’s New Band, The Monroe Transfer are the opposite; complicated, multi-layered and dense. But just like Darts, there’s a similar veneer of calmness and a brash nonconformity.

They’re a band where perhaps analysing individual songs is not the point (though, of course, we will), as their songs are long, drawn-out and connecting with you in a wholly different way to the usual three minute blast. This isn’t whale-noise ‘mood-music’ though, but is a collection of carefully constructed sounds, both attention-grabbing and subliminally affecting.

A Long Fall And No-one To Catch You is just that – a slow, lingering descent towards an inevitable finish, like those dreams where you materialise a mile up in the sky and then calmly watch the earth zoom towards you. JFK is doom-laden and tense, a thoughtful musical shimmy to Kennedy’s address on the Cuban Missile Crisis. Joy might well be about happiness, but not any type of glee that you’ve ever experienced.

If all of this sounds weighty, well, it is. I’m sure that, as people, they’re a bunch of knock-around, diamond-geezer, cheeky chappies. But on record, they’re plumbing depths and exploring feelings for us so that we don’t have to. That they’re chosen to record their findings as lovely, drifting music is a happy, complicated, bonus. So listen to them here!

>Today’s New Band – Candythief

>Remember how we went mental over the brilliantThe Battle Is Over” by Paul Hawkins and Thee Awkward Silences a few days back? Remember how we raved about the voice of the guest singer, Candythief? Well, with a shuddering inevitability, Candythief is today’s New Band Of The Day!

There’s a couple of ‘truisms’ when it comes to discussing vocalists. The first one is to point out that sometimes you hear a voice so beautifully penetrating that it speaks to you in a different way to most others. “That sounds wonderfully mindless,” you’re thinking, but it’s true in the case of Candythief. Singer Diana’s voice is the kind that would make you mix your metaphors and make you happy to crawl over hot broken glass, just to ask her to sing you to sleep at night. It’s genuinely lovely – rich, dreamy and innocent enough to sound slightly dangerous.

The second ‘truism’ is to say that a good voice can hide a glut of crappiness, mainly the enriching of average songs. The happy news is that Candythief sing great songs, subtle and entrancing. A Good Day is one of these songs. It’s as light as a feather and yet as powerful as a punch on the nose. “I feel like there’s petrol in my veins, whilst fierce joy’s bursting through my brain” she sings, while guitars and violins meld into a rolling accompaniment.

Junk is similarly ace, a wandering, violin-powered drift through a happy/gloomy folk nursery rhyme. The good news is that she’s just got a record deal and so, hopefully, these fabulous songs can gently slide in to as many people’s ears as possible. There’s honestly no reason not to listen to Candythief’s songs, so do it here! – http://www.myspace.com/candythief

>Today’s New Band – Picture Books In Winter

>What, another Welsh band on A New Band A Day? There’s no hidden agenda here*, just a reflection of the fact that Wales is spewing out great bands at a shocking rate at the moment. I’ve chuntered on before about how many Welsh bands seem to have something extra that just lifts them above their peers, and guess what? – Today’s New Band, Picture Books In Winter are another example of just that.

Welsh bands seem to have a monopoly on the violin too – see Gorky’s and Los Campesinos! for proof – and Picture Books In Winter prove again that I was wrong to turn down violin lessons as a youngster. Because if I’d taken them, perhaps I too could be playing in bands with songs as surprising, lithe and strutting as Horizontally I Am Champion.

Hear it on their MySpace Page. “I’ve always had a talent for arts and crafts”, they proclaim over the lolloping guitar line, whilst musing about ex-Blue Peter tea-time-trouser-troubler Konnie Huq. It’s unusual to hear a song which is so wonderfully idiosyncratic from such a new band – and as even more incentive, should you need it, Horizontally I Am Champion is available as a free download on their Myspace page. Visit, download, and add them to your burgeoning ‘Great Welsh Bands’ list that I’m sure you have stuck to your fridge.

*nothing illegal, anyway. Honest.