The Birdman Rallies – Breathless Enthusiasm and Golden Retrievers

Nothing replaces the thrill of discovering a new band all by yourself and then scampering off, dander up, to breathlessly tell your friends how just unbelievably amazing they are.

I received the email equivalent of this friendly nagging, from a reader called Alex. Alex’s email was a tumble-jumble of superlatives, all of which were rooted in sheer enthusiasm for a new band discovered in a bar.

And that excites me too, in an empathic reflex action. The cynic in me was quelled, and I felt the same thrilling surge, excited to hear The Birdman Rallies for myself. I wasn’t disappointed at all.

The Birdman Rallies // Colour In A Corner Of The Night

There’s something very loveable about The Birdman Rallies, in the way a very clean, glossy-haired Golden Retriever is when it jumps up and places paws on your hips; happy to see you, ready to play.

Hearty and heartfelt, warm and loving, shimmering and bright – this is a band who, as Alex found, beg superlatives. It’s the song’s inherent warmth that is the most enjoyable, hitting like waves with every chorus.

For someone who is supposed to be recommending bands through the medium of the written word, I’m struggling to stretch beyond, ‘they’re just delightful.’

Loved ones will be hugged, the world will take on a rosy hue, and everything will be just OK. Like Alex, I’m a convert, and this is my testimony.

Piran; An Exercise In The Theoretical Stalking Thereof

You know when you think you know someone, but you can’t swear to it? It’s a bit like when you accidentally catch a glimpse of your own reflection and momentarily think you’re looking someone completely different, but with all the social agonies of not knowing whether to head on over and say ‘hi’.

So, I’m sure I’ve seen Piran around and about in Manchester – I know his face. But I’m equally sure that this is nonsense. There are millions of people in Manchester. Stupid brain. This has become a weird exercise in non-existent stalking. Time to move on.

If I ever do see him, though, he’s owed a hearty congratulations – because this one-Man(c)-band has scrabbled together a great song:

Piran // Rip Off

Being a one-man operation is a minefield of pros and cons – on one hand, you have total creative control and, unless you have a personality disorder, there will be no messy break-ups due to ‘creative differences’ (though if you do have a personality disorder, it will be an extremely messy break up).

The flip side is that the emphasis is squarely on you: no-one to take the strain when you’re exhausted, and every stumble means a long and lonely trip back to draw from the well of inner strength.

So the fact that Piran, my mysterious stranger, has whelped this pristine jewel of a song by himself is a minor triumph. The song is clearly one person’s work – you can always tell – but Rip Off is measured, quirky, clever and still idiosyncratic.

Piran: neat, charming and fun.

The Whatevers; Peeking Into Lives And An Orgy Of Links

Although ANBAD is, to all intents and purposes, Just Another Music Blog, it doesn’t really behave like one.

I mean, yes, it has all the attributes of a blog that made the format so refreshingly de jour back in 2003, yet doesn’t do all the backlinking, cross-posting promotion and inter-blog link-exchanging that blogs are supposed to do. Perhaps if it did, I’d spend more time smoking cigars on Mediterranean yachts full of Page 3 girls funded from the proceeds. Still.

So, in a belated effort, today’s post is stuffed to the gills with links and what-have-you. And here’s possibly the first-ever, what-ever, link to another blog article: an astonishingly funny clip of ridiculous Scottish chart-ditherers Bay City Rollers playing to crowd of ‘life-end citizens’.

And so to business. The Whatevers are fully aware that there are lots of other bands called by the same name. But this one is so new that when I first heard the below song yesterday, it had only received one lonely play on their Myspazz page.

The Whatevers // Rhapsody In Blue Jeans

The Whatevers pretty much encapsulate exactly what it is I love about new bands so much – the half-clumsy recordings, the awkward gestures, the sweet – so sweet – and tentative lyrics.

This kind of bedroom pop is so delicious, so important and so touching because songs like this are a deliberate peek into the lives of people who might otherwise keep their eyes pointed towards the ground as they scurry for the bus.

All of this might sound like damnation via the most faint of praise, but it’s all intended as the most sincere encouragement and adulation. And so, of all the links on the page, here’s the most fulfilling of all:

PS: OK, one more link. Well, two. Three. The wonderful and long-time ANBAD Faves Ace Bushy Striptease have got a wonderful long-player out, and I urge you to buy it for a paltry £3 here: One Final Link.

Black Daniel, and Finally: The Inevitable BBC 6 Music Post

So, I’ve finally sent a slightly embarrassing and uptight email to the BBC complaining about the bizarre (and I suspect, politically motivated) decision to axe of BBC 6Music.

If, like me, you’re a listener (and can put aside the temptation to let it disappear just so Lauren Laverne’s show will vanish as well) and value the station’s admirable adherence to playing something different, why not email them too?

That idea of playing something different is key: it is why you’re reading this blog, why your idea of hell is a U2 concert, and it’s what separates us from them. It’s also why closing BBC 6Music is bizarre: offering less choice is not what the BBC is supposed to do.

BBC 6Music exists to give bands like Black Daniel a break, and an exposure to a much wider audience than the usual Blogospherical constraints.

Black Daniel are an enigma too: a band who are in it for the fun of it, yet make songs like ILoveYouButDon’tTouchMeCosYou’reSick that are too good to be merely a show-off’s cast-offs.

Black Daniel // ILoveYouButDon’tTouchMeCosYou’reSick

The song is a strange hybrid of the nihilism of Mudhoney‘s Touch Me I’m Sick and the tune of The VaselinesJesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam, which is as good a starting point as any.

Appropriately, the song is a scorcher: essentially one long celebration of its own excellent chorus. And for a band that appears to revel in their own reckless, gauche abandon, it’s quite affecting, lovely and even cute. A surprising pleasure.

Sissy And The Blisters, and The Folly Of Rock And Roll Adoration

Forming a rock ‘n’ roll band is one of the more deceptive and fickle actions a group of young men (and it’s almost always young men) can take. It seems so easy: get a self-confident frontman, grind our some satisfying guitar parts that allow just as much time for posing as for riffola, get sweaty – then lie back and watch as the groupies roll in.

So easy, so tempting. Except: unless your frontman is really good, and really knows how to engage a room full of arched eyebrows, you fail. Unless the ‘Us Versus The World’ schtick comes across as genuine, you fail. And if those boogie-woogie riffs that have worked for so many bands for so long aren’t just so, you won’t so much fail as be laughed out of town.

Hence the arrival of a rock band that get it right is always to be appreciated. Enter Sissy And The Blisters, who tick rock ‘n’ roll boxes whilst lightly skipping around those labelled ‘Massive Cliché Nonsense’.

Just listen, and look and admire: Sissy And The Blisters’ togetherness is real, not forced, their crashing guitar and clunky drums have grown out of an organic process and their songs are tread old paths, but the band are wearing new shoes.

Sissy and The Blisters – Things May Change

In Things May Change, gloom and misdemeanour wallow, hand in hand. Masculine pride and assuredness compete with discomfort and crumbling confidence.

The guitars wax, wane and rattle. The song follows a verse-chorus-verse format, just like it should. Sissy And The Blisters are rock ‘n’ roll like it ought to be: blunt thrills performed on the cheap, eyes greedily spying the future. And they only formed in December, too.

T54: Heavy Aural Artillery

I rarely consider a band’s influences. In all honesty, I doubt that good bands worry too much about them either, and instead concentrate on making their own sound.

But people are always interested, and so bands always list them: although simply put, a band that sounds a bit like the B-52‘s in all likelihood have just listened to a whole bundle of B-52‘s albums at some point.

So what of the similarly enciphered T54? A quick Google search tells us that the T54 was a Russian tank, and a quick listen to HK-T-G Rules! tells us that My Bloody Valentine, Ride and Sonic Youth have all spent time spinning on their turntables.

T54 – HK-T-G Rules!

A driving garage riff, hollow-eyed drumming, tinny guitars, distant and droning vocals: this is a band carefully picking from their favourite bands’ gene pool and breeding an altogether new beast. HK-T-G Rules! is relentless, shimmering and free – the sound of a really new band setting loose all those new ideas and experiencing the joyful rush.

I might be wrong, but I’m not sure that T54 have spent a huge amount of time playing out their hometown of Christchurch in New Zealand – they may not have spent much time playing outside of their bedrooms. Perfect. Listen while they’re still forming.

Manchester 2010: The Scene That Ate Itself

Is Manchester a city that is so proud of its musical past it still trades heavily on it, or one that has just given up trying to surpass what was produced before? That revolutionary 80’s period is still leant upon, and how: The Hacienda, now a swanky apartment block; “And on the 6th day, God created Manchester” T-shirts are still available in your size; and Peter Hook, having spent decades learning how not to run a nightclub, proves he has a sense of humour by opening a new, Factory-themed one.

Love And Disaster 1

This isn’t as bad a situation as some people would have you believe: celebrating past glories is one of life’s most rewarding pastimes. It’s just that this particular fertile period – and remember, it was one that spawned Joy Division, The Smiths, The Happy Mondays, New Order, The Stone Roses and all those other bands that are, if anything, lauded even closer to the heavens today – has overshadowed everything Manchester has ever done since.

A city that was so fully, overwhelmingly, endearingly, defined by a specific scene has struggled to shake off its shackles. Good bands have come and gone – but what of the scene? The vibe? The feel? Has enough time passed for a new group of bands to define their locale?

If a new EP, released this week, is to be believed, a new and very distinct Mancunian musical picture is emerging. One where the bands clutch to each other as firmly as they push away – bands that feed off each other, spur each other on, compete, and then go home and listen to each other’s records. The EP is called, aptly, Love And Disaster.

Featuring the toppers of various ‘Big In 2010’ lists, Delphic, as well as Airship, Dutch Uncles, and Jo Rose, it’s a disc that doesn’t just celebrate new Manchester bands: it digs deep into the creative psyche of them, reveals the complex interchange of ideas between them and mines fissures of hot rivalry – all of which powers what may be a nascent, genuinely new Manchester ‘scene’.

I spoke to Dan Parrott – once musical director of local TV station Channel M, and now the determined soul who put Love And Disaster together.

Did you just want to showcase your favourite new bands in Manchester? Or was there something else that drove the creation of the EP?

“Well – yes and no – they’re bands I really really love and so quite unashamedly are bands I want to push. They’re also bands I got to know from Channel M Music – bands I enjoyed showcasing, got on with and asked back for more. I wondered if this was too shallow a reasoning to justify the EP, but quickly realised that the that reason I kept getting them them back on the TV was a good enough reason for putting a record together”.

Why did you want to be so involved with a particular group of bands?

“Because, simply, they are bands I like. I showcased Delphic when they were very, very new – I caught them when they were young and I wanted to be part of the arc of their career, simply because they were great. They didn’t even have any tracks on their Myspace page when we had them on the TV show – they’d just play gigs at Night and Day in Manchester. But you could hear that they were so good and had spent a whole year just writing songs, and not gigging.”

So is it a vanity project?

“No – this EP is similar to what I did at Channel M anyway: I played what I liked then, and this is what I like now. The record was cathartic. Hopefully if they go onto big things, these bands will look back and see this as the start of their careers – and the bands can treat this as a full stop and, hopefully, a starting point. The remit of the record is to tie up and represent not only the sound of Manchester, but the new sound in the UK as well”

And what of this new Manchester scene? What makes it new? What makes it at all?

“It’s an undefined scene if you like. There’s a softly, softly approach – there are these bands together in Manchester but they’re not all the same. They’re helping each other out. They’re all working for each other. That’s perhaps what ties them all together – not their sound but the fact that they all genuinely like each other’s bands.”


So it seems like the Factory-era togetherness is still there, if not a unifying sound…

“Maybe. The bands are all mates, but it’s still disparate, not very organised. There are bands feeding off each other, but producing different sounds. It’s healthy competition. They appreciate what each other does – they go home and put each other’s music on the stereo. These are bands that will stick at it, and they have albums in them.”

What do people think of this new bunch of bands? They’re not what the public consider to be ‘Manchester bands’.

The reception has been really good – It was difficult getting all the contracts signed, but labels have actually been positive to get them grouping together. They know money isn’t necessarily the priority with a physical release now – but the bands’ stature is still important.”

“Take Dutch Uncles – they are way ahead of their time in many ways: incredibly talented musicians who use technology and creative invention to make their own new sound. I was annoyed that the NME didn’t pick them up previously, but perhaps it was for the best. They’re exposed now, and it’s the right time.”

“And of course Delphic are now being hyped, and are set to be big. Delphic meet all sorts of [industry] people now because they’re getting stellar. And they always push Manchester bands to these people because they love the idea of Manchester and Factory; not in a stereotypical way, but in the idea of a bunch of unusual, good bands that are unified.”

So maybe a new perception of Manchester’s music might emerge?

“Yeah – the whole point of the group photo (above) is to physically unify them together, to define them as a group. Hopefully it’ll be a really important photo in 5 years time – it uses a typical Mancunian warehouse setting but then that’s the point: it is still Manchester.”

Love And Disaster 1: New Tracks From New Manchester Artists is available now.

>Lost Knives – Or, How To Be Superceded By The Lure Of A Kebab

This post ought to have featured last week, when Manchester’s In The City New Music Conference was relevant, current and new. I wanted to see Lost Knives quite badly, but was ‘held up watching another band’.

A quick glance at the schedule would reveal that I was at the Dutch Uncles gig, but a delve into the truth would expose that I had holed up in a kebab shop and was shoving dubious spicy meat into my idiot face.

I wished I’d seen them, especially when, the next day, talk of their performance was a drizzle of positive chatter. My guilt was compounded when one the band then sent me an email asking if I’d seen them play.

So this review is part praise, part apology, and part admission of dumb servitude to a base need for cheap meat. Lost Knives are a good band, who will succeed regardless of any shabby chuntering on a new music blog.

If they do make it, it will have been their songs that drove them there. Tracks like Cold Morning are rumbustious enough to please the indie purists and to shake the rest from their slumber. A foot stomper in the very truest sense, Lost Knives throw big chord changes, clobbering drums and gritted-teeth vocals in, and get skyscraping rock in return.

Laden with end-of-world doom and shoot-to-the-moon ambition, it’s a song as wide-eyed as it is jittering with aggro. Lost Knives are less spicy, but more meaty than any amount of grilled, skewered meat. Praise indeed.

>Today’s New Band – The Witch and The Robot

Oh yes, I’ve been to Cumbria. For the uninitiated, it’s the very northern, remote part of England; full, as I remember, of natural beauty, rain and – in Barrow-in-Furness at least – very large and intimidating men. It’s also the home of the strange and brilliant band British Sea Power, whose album The Decline Of British Sea Power is an oft-overlooked classic.

Today’s New Band, The Witch And The Robot, are from the same green, lush part of the world and are championed by, indeed, British Sea Power. This is as suitable recommendation as any, and The Witch And The Robot don’t disappoint. The same air that gave BSP a crazed edge has blessed a second band with a similarly obtuse outlook on life.

The Best Free Show On Earth whistles one flute-loop over and over so many times that an entirely unexpected Orbital-esque feel blossoms out of the song’s lovely, Byrds-y, sun-soaked roots.

That song is shot with vanilla-flavoured normality in comparison to Sex Music (Beef On Wax), which is a song in several, absurd, contemplative parts. It starts here, then peers over there, and then is suddenly distracted by something else. You know how you’ve always longed for a song that combines safari parks, feline disaster, cod-funk and spoken-word pieces? Well, prepare to sleep easily again: you’ve found your perfect song.

Despite the cream-pie attacks at their gigs, The Witch And The Robot aren’t zany-kids-TV-pranks crazy, they’re just wildly inventive; free-association idea-forming as they play their old/new songs carefully and cleverly. They don’t deserve sympathy, or confusion, or apathy – just your full attention.

>Today’s New Band – Extradition Order

Everyone loves demo tapes. Ask any indie wannabe in any indie hang-out what they’re doing, and they’ll tell you, either excitedly or haughtily, about the demo they’re recording with such-and-such local producer you’ve never heard of, but get the feeling you ought to have.

The phrase ‘demo tapes’ itself has so much indie-cool cachet that having one is almost better than an actual album. In truth, most demo tapes are crud: the sound grim, the songs ropey, enthusiasm overtaking craft. And yet, The PixiesCome On Pilgrim is a series of demos off a C90 tape. The demo world is fraught with such confusion.

Today’s New Band, Extradition Order, have some of the most impressive demos this writer has heard for a while. In these tapes, the songs themselves are at the fore, and the time and effort put into writing them is clear.

Take Matches Meet Petrol – a rock song without a guitar shoved right under your nose; a song where jittering drums, rhythms and bottle-tapping take precedence; a song that excels, screaming, in its self-constructed arena of mania and threat. It’s as thrilling a song as you’ll have heard all week.

Or take Laura In The Winter, flooded with gothic (note: not ‘Goth’) melodrama and strange lust, the sheer attentiveness of which shows Extradition Order to be a band with their eyes fixed firmly on bigger and better things.

The Come On Pilgrim demo was released as it was, because label bosses were worried that rerecording them would detract from their impact and power. Extradition Order might well ponder the same concerns. Their demos are good. A great way to end the week – Listen here!