>Today’s New Band – Ex Lovers PLUS! Credit Crunch Revenge!

>In these recession-ridden times, hidden value – getting more than your bargained for – is about as good as it gets. This is especially true if you think that you’ve been diddled out of too much money in the first place. An example: when I went to see Pete and The Pirates last night, they had to prize the £9.50 out of my clammy hand. I paid it with half reluctance and half comfort – on one hand, nine pounds bloody fifty is a lot of money to see a band that hardly dents the Top 40, but then on the other hand, if that band is as good as P&TP, who cares?

They were, indeed, great. Lovely, charming, inventive tunes with lovely, charming, inventive lyrics. They reminded me a bit of James – not in their sound, but in their arty contrariness. But what made me totally forget all about the cost was the fact that their support band, Ex Lovers, were superb too. And so, in a fit of inevitable cunning, they are Today’s New Band.

Ex Lovers just work. There are so many bands that aren’t quite there – a good singer with a clunky band, or a great guitarist in a band that writes sub-Travis dirge. But Ex Lovers all fit together perfectly, like Stickle Bricks. And like Stickle Bricks, each bit of the band is different, and contributes something good to the whole. (No more dreadful toddler’s toy analogies, I promise.)

Their gentle songs have that great indie coyness that has been hitherto trampled over in the rush for ‘dancefloor’ staccato beats and choppy too-cool guitars. Listen to Just A Silhouette, and swoon to the dreamy vocals, snappy hooks and the way it drifts into the chorus. Then – more hidden value – bathe yourself in the total absence of pretentiousness.

There’s something softly defiant about Ex Lovers – all the songs sound like they are just about to dissolve nihilistically into warm fuzz. When I saw them last night, they were smart enough to only let that happen once or twice.

Ex Lovers play songs that do exactly what you were hoping they’d do, just when you were hoping it would happen. Thanks, Ex Lovers, for making that £9.50 seem like a bargain. Their songs are like soft electricity, a descripiton which I freely accept is the most pretentious phrase I have ever typed. But it fits. Listen to them here.

>Über-Tramps, Emogedden and Today’s New Band – E.K. Wimmer

>I was stopped in the street by a homeless guy at lunchtime. There’s nothing too unusual about that – there are plenty in the park near ANBAD Towers. The park seems to serve as a kind of Tramp Créche, and usually, they potter around happily, drinking Frosty Jack’s cider and worrying the middle classes. Anyway, this particular unsteady guy asked me for money. In fact, what he specifically said was, “Excuse me mate, have you got any spare change? I need eleven pence.” Eleven pence? Specifically eleven? Why?

This was an unusual tactic, and nearly threw me from my usual tactic of gruffly mumbling, “no,” whilst feeling slightly empty inside and walking on, but I held firm and screwed him out of his 11p. Such left-field thinking from our nation’s homeless folk means that surely a new super breed of tramp has arisen, and any time now, will be the taking over. I, for one, welcome our our bearded, surprisingly sportswear-beclothed and befuddled masters.

So while we wait for the Trampocalypse, how about a little light music? Today’s New Band isn’t really a band – he’s a solo artiste – but I’m not changing the name of the website for just anybody, you know. E. K. Wimmer is a songwriter who is recording music solo after a seven year absence, which I think is a long enough time to re-classify him as ‘New’.

His songs linger in that space between simple and complex. At their barest, the songs’ sparseness is enveloping, mournful and close. Simply Call My Name starts as a lovely, intimate voice ‘n’ guitar song which then explodes unexpectedly. A burst of loud, shocking noise could, in other circumstances, have been a cheap trick, but here it actually underlines the lovely lyrical lament.

The Closer We Get is the sound of a hurt man sidling up to you and spilling his story, in a tearfully masculine way. Gentle and harsh; raw and slick; distant and cloying – E.K. Wimmer‘s songs manage to occupy both sides of the same coin.

‘Emotion’ is a dirty word in rock because of the ridiculous posturing and exaggeration of the Emo idiots (Emorons?), but here it is, laid out before you. And not a straightened asymmetrical fringe in sight, which is why you might fancy a listen to E.K. Wimmer right here.

>Today’s New Band – Voo

>Another Liverpool band? This is getting silly. A New Band A Day has been littered with them recently, with Indica Ritual and My Amiga most recently using all their Scouse powers of persuasion on us. And look, here comes another one, with stereotypically jaunty tunes, and melodies coming out of their eyeballs.

When will these bands learn that if you want to be a rock star these days, it’s not about having good songs, but about being photographed falling out of nightclubs, getting shabby on crack and slinging out a half-hearted Boomtown Rats sound-a-like album every 18 months? Some people just don’t get it.

So, Today’s New Band, Voo, steadfastly refuse to go all New-Rave or New-Gaze or New-[insert most recently dug-up old genre here] on us. Instead, with songs like Favourite Films, they demonstrate a keen ear for chipper, slightly anthemic pop-rock. Schnik Schnak Schnuk is an ace, building crunchy song that has not one, but two! of everyone’s favourite rock tricks – the false ending and a “na-na-na-naa” bit. Acoustic For Sake of Space is either a title or a disclaimer, I’m not sure, but it definitely is light, delicate and mournfully enticing.

I get the feeling that Voo would sound even better live. They’re touring soon, so keep ’em peeled. Listen to their songs here!

>The Molotovs – Today’s New Band

>Posturing and rock go hand-in-hand. This self-awareness often results in musical bombast partnered with hollow and blustering lyrics. After a while, some bands only seek to consolidate their public image, their music becoming a tick-box exercises in retreading the inevitable. It’s partly this laziness that gives new bands an allure – music made by people who don’t have personal masseurs (yet).

Today’s New Band are The Molotovs, and their songs are thick with weary recognition of life’s frustrations. They don’t pose or worry about their appearance as they’re too busy turning an anglepoise lamp onto themselves and delving inside their own neuroses. Flowers is a decidedly jaunty romp, with fiddly guitars and sax, though the lyrics lament – “I bought you some flowers, was that not enough? Paperback novels taught you to bluff.” This conflict between big, brash and uplifting tunes and the mournful lyrics reoccurs in One Up On Me, which, whilst sporting a sprightly melody, is drenched in a sombre listlessness.

None of this means that their music is a Radiohead-in-their-most-dour-moments drag – The Molotovs‘ songs are an upbeat treat in many ways. Their vocal acknowledgement is just that not everything is a bowl of cherries, a rare display of pragmatism in rock, I suppose. And anyway, any band that is happy to propel as un-rock ‘n’ roll an instrument as the accordion to the forefront of their songs is all right by me. Their songs are right here!

>Today’s New Band – Held By Hands

>Much like a good joke, the outcomes of life’s intricacies depend on great, erm, you know…. timing. We’ve all thought of the right thing to do or say just 10 minutes later than would have been useful – the witty put-down to the brainless idiot who mocked you in a bar, or the slowly dawning realisation that maybe saying ‘yes’ to an asymmetrical mullet may not have been the right course of action.

The same is true with bands. So many bands have been in the right place at the wrong time that it’s painful. It’s a horrible truth is that if you are out of kilter with the majority, the chances of recognition are minimal – you could call it Van Gogh Syndrome. Fortunately most musicians don’t follow his example to the letter, otherwise there would be severed ears scattered around guitar shops and recording studios all over the country.

Today’s New Band, Held By Hands, were one that I had on my ‘to do’ list for a few months. As much of the decision-making process behind electing each day’s new abnd is almost entirely arbitrary, today suddenly felt right to be a Held By Hands day. Their porcelain-delicate songs, which build and build but still seem as light as air at the end, were just perfect for easing gently into the coming week.

So how bowel-churningly typical that I revisited their Myspace page to find that Held By Hands split up about 3 weeks ago. This all leaves their beautiful song, Trading on Past Treasures, even more poignant, and definitely more fitting. It’s a typically light, thoughtful and pretty swoop through introspectiveness, reaching a chorus of, “My God we were innocent/ My God, it was such a good time.” Listen to their songs here, before they disappear, and mourn a bit for the passing of a lovely, unique band.

>Today’s New Band – Like a Fox

>Simian-theme band names are like all the rage in rock music. The Arctic Monkeys, the Monkeys, Gorrillaz, Simian, and even last Friday’s New Band of the Day, The Cruiser Chimps.

So here’s to today’s new band, Like A Fox, for shunning the temptation of crowbarring a monkey theme into their name. Foxes are crafty animals, all sly and sneaky, which augurs well for a rock band’s image. Like a Monkey would just conjure up images of the band scratching purple bottoms and scaring zoo-bound school parties by throwing their own excrement at them.

Unusual faeces imagery aside (though if that’s your thing, see one of last week’s bands, Coprophagia, here), Like A Fox are a lovely loping mix of Mercury Rev and Grandaddy. They’re another one of those slightly gleeful American bands – the type that seem to drift out of the USA every once in a while – and are a happy antidote to the mentalist urgency of most rock on the radio at the moment.

Frankly, if their song A Little doesn’t make you feel just a bit joyfully wistful, you may not be wholly human. Hear it on their Myspace page – and check out Heavy Soothing too- and see if time doesn’t just float by.

– – A big thanks to Andy Woods from the fabulous Smile night at the Star and Garter in Manchester for introducing me to Like a Fox- –