Friday, October 02, 2009

The new top ten

Not actually an ordered or definitive top ten of anything as such, just ten new bands we wanted to give some blog time to.

Saw these supporting fellow Leodensians Sky Larkin the other night, and they've got a couple more days out with the guys/girl in the days ahead before a debut single, Furrpile, out on limited 7" the 5th. Ploughing through 'alternative' Myspaces at the rate we do, you get overused to seeing 'Influences: Sonic Youth, Pavement', but Wonderswan actually do sound like Daydream Nation played in the manner of Crooked Rain Crooked Rain, a not quite shabby enough pedal-happy post-slacker ball of contained scuzz. All of which makes their election into all the Dinosaur Pile-Up influenced articles about the 'Leeds grunge revival' scene the more puzzling. Hell, as any discerning STN reader will know there's plenty more than that going on in the fine city, with just this year excellent albums from ver Larkin and Grammatics, a forthcoming fine effort from I Concur, Napoleon IIIrd's still progressive EP and...

The Medusa Snare
In the wake of being namechecked as The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart's favourite British band The Manhattan Love Suicides went and split in July. The band's rhythm section Adam Miller and Rachel Barker immediately formed this band, and debut album Cinderella has already come out just this week. For the most part the MLS' J&MC feedback headlong charge is locked in a cupboard in favour of a more streamlined, almost but not quite approachable sound that retains the sprinting rhythmic pace but allies it to a swirling propulsiveness. They mention The Clean as an influence, we also hear Flying Nun colleagues The Chills, the Velvets and Yo La Tengo. And a whole load of potential greatness.

Kidnapper Bell
That these part-American Brummies have dates coming up with Therapy? and This Town Needs Guns demonstrates the duality of their sound, something they hold dearly in common with other STN pin-ups the beloved JoFo and the late Sunset Cinema Club. On the one hand, an unstable post-hardcore charge borrowing from emo - the proper emo, the emo of Sunny Day Real Estate and Braid, on the other a sound liable to change tack sharply on intricate guitar lines a la Minus The Bear or the Kinsellites. The Way It Goes even finds room for some rhythm track beatboxing. For the STN favoured full house, Tom Woodhead's producing their next single.

Tom from Mascot Fight - a band you'll be reminded about a lot on this blog over the next two months - reminded us of this band at the weekend, out of Derby's curiously crowded Cap'n Jazz acolyte scene (These Waves, You Animals, Beyond This Point Are Monsters). People who flee from the word 'angular' will need to tread carefully around these, as their popping guitars, lo-fi post-hardcore and jutting angles (think Tubelord or, really, half the Big Scary Monsters roster) are what that descriptive term was actually invented for. And they're tremendously young, it seems.

The Hi-Life Companion
Sound like: the latest Afrobeat bandwagoners. Are: a Bristol band including a couple of longstanding indiepop types. While there's a held back cleanness and almost sweetness to a lot of their approach, the harmonies and fizzy guitars suggest Felt's wrong-pop, while they're also comfortable with a porch country swoon. Aberfeldy, the Magnetic Fields and early Camera Obscura comes to mind. Oddly for a band with such an attitude they sound least comfortable in their most bubblegum moments, but time will kick that out of them.

Detox Cute & The Beauty Junkies
Enough of twee pop, let's talk about the duo of Paisley Play-Doh and Charlie Darling. (Oh, wait.) We've had plenty of offers down the months and years for gigs and events, sometimes even in Britain and outside London (rare, though), but these were the first band to offer us a visit to their video shoot. (We were otherwise engaged) It's been a long time, probably since Lamacq was on the Evening Session, that we've heard bedroom keyboard pop done like this. This, which they call E-Pop (like J-Pop, but very English) is their idea of pure pop, which Cowell would never understand, and with fragments in view of Helen Love, Saint Etienne and the Pet Shop Boys, not to mention the founding days of synth pop without going anywhere near La Roux misunderstanding, all dialogue samples and lovely, loving melody and melancholy. They're playing a packed night at the 100 Club on 22nd October with among others Gwenno, Theoretical Girl and...

The Understudies
Our good friends in Leicester promotions Twesta have put this London via Scotland outfit on twice now, so enamoured are they. Plenty of sophisticated not quite jangle going on here, from Felt's hidden depths to Postcard Records' understated pop with delusions of grandeur plus a Morrissey-esque literary diarising. Now we notice it, they're the first band we can recall to mention Jack as an influence, and while the the strings or textures have been swapped for something more direct and basic in set-up the sentiments are similar.

Pope Joan
Enough of wistfulness. Remember Tired Irie? They started really well then kind of gradually turned into Duran Duran and split a couple of months ago. Their early releases are what this Brighton outfit immediately remind us of, all scratchily agitated punk-funk very much in the Les Savy Fav mode with synth undertow and pop hooks. Full of danceable nervous energy and an elastic rhythm section, like how Bloc Party should have ended up, drive they could just reinstate the good name of art rock.

Further adventures into math-rock come from these instrumentalists of rock hub Wrexham who plough the middle furrow on one side of which lies jagged No Waveries and the other Battles/Pivot arrythmic guitar/gizom trickery, all served on a bed of synth bass and post-rock structures. If this all sounds like no fun, well, you're wrong. Post-Foals, most will say as they do with their European touring partners Minnaars, but that's to take them down to the very lowest level - it's an intriguing, eardrum-burrowing mixture and one that you could well be hearing plenty about come the settling in period of 2010.

Something grand to finish on, a London octet who extract the little man behind the Emerald City curtain from Muse's sound and ally it to a grandly theatrical string-soaked sweep, intricately arranged and if we have to say post-Arcade Fire then a post-Arcade Fire that understand epic soundscapes. Maybe a little Waterboys too, but our best go is their being like a Wilkommen Collective band teaming with Grammatics to take on a Hollywood score overture. It'll divide opinion with its sonic ambition, we reckon, but at its best it builds and overwhelms with a very un-English controlled anthemic ambition.

1 comment:

Ben said...

Very nice tips.

Wonderswan: You've got to love a band whose Myspace line is "Every good boy deserves fuzz" and the band members are listed as Kim Deal, Kim Gordon, Kim Basinger and Kim Il Sung...

Revere: 'The Escape Artist' - wow. Annoyed I didn't know about them a couple of weeks ago, when they played Southsea Fest.

Kidnapper Bell and Pope Joan also sound pretty decent.