Apologies. MLIR is currently:
a) Too busy with work in my final year of uni, and other projects in my spare time (editing my novel, writing another one, anagramming), to write articles of a decent standard;
b) Taking a break from journalism more generally for reasons too long to go into on here;
c) Er, that’s it.
There’ll be a guide to the Countdown series 67 finals in early December, but I’m not going to promise any other articles in the near future. For your fix of new bands, the Guardian’s New Band of the Day feature is invaluable (Childhood, last Thursday’s band, sound excellent on the strength of ‘Blue Velvet’); for Britpop stuff, John Harris’s book is pretty much the Bible on that front. I’m provisionally looking at Britpop in my dissertation (in relation to English literature/art/nationalism of the 1990s), so I might get sick of writing about it after that!
Seeing as this is an update of some description, some of the bands featured on the ‘Bands of the Week’ articles on here have been up to new and exciting things recently. Shinies’ latest single, Ennui, has not only been played on Radio 1 but also ended up featured on the Daily Mail and Sun websites (among others) owing to Pat Sharp being brutally assaulted in its video; Shade Of Red, Cornwall’s best new musical export, have released their second EP ‘Anne Ivory’, which is even better than their debut [buy here as either a download or limited edition CD - if you buy the CD, they may draw a demon cat/hamster hybrid on the envelope for you, which is well worth the extra pounds]; finally, Billie Joe Armstrong of The Boo (and some band I’ve never heard of called Green Day) has, er, gone into rehab for substance addiction. Perhaps that doesn’t count as an exciting thing.
Finally finally, some new albums you should check out in MLIR’s absence (click links to open in Spotify): All Of Us, Together – Teen Daze; Lonerism – Tame Impala; Anne Ivory EP – Shade Of Red; Melody’s Echo Chamber – Melody’s Echo Chamber; Kill For Love – Chromatics; Always EP – Summer Camp. Achtung, though – if you’re looking for Britpop, you will not find it in any of these albums. I do listen to other things, y’know.
Thanks, and sorry again.
Previous Bands of the Week round-ups: 1, 2
BOTW has been on hiatus recently – numbers 9-11 were posted in June, number 12 was posted this morning. MLIR is fashionably unpredictable like that (apart from appearing to be predictable by starting sentences with acronyms, FYI). With no further delay, here are the last four Chosen Ones…
Band of the Week, #9: Psycosis/Neutral Bling Hotel.
Do you enjoy Neutral Milk Hotel’s modern classic ‘In The Aeroplane Over The Sea’? Then prepare to be thrilled or disgusted by the hip-hop reworking of it by video game producer and mash-up master Psycosis, billed as Neutral Bling Hotel on ‘In My G4 Over Da Sea’. Once you’ve got over the novelty, it actually works with and builds on the original to surprising effect. You can find the full album on his Band Camp website, and download it for however much you want.
Band of the Week, #10: The Boo
With Green Day’s forthcoming album ‘Uno’ due out later this month, it seems fitting to introduce Billie Joe Armstrong’s family band, The Boo. Green Day haters, don’t run – it sounds far more like 60s-flavoured GD side project Foxboro Hot Tubs than anything on ‘American Idiot’.
With wife Adie on vocals, sons Joey on drums and Jakob on guitar, and Armstrong commandeering the bass, their economical, lo-fi punk channels a playful, female-vocalled version of The Ramones. Unfortunately, only a handful of their EPs have graced the buying public, so probably not coming to a record store near you.
Band of the Week, #11: Trailer Trash Tracys
The name conjures up visions of rednecks peddling a tame ‘n’ terrible brand of Kings of Leon/diluted Black Keys guitar music, but it’s really a London quartet dabbling with ethereal, dreamy-voiced shoegaze. Debut album ‘Ester’, released in January to a slew of good reviews, is full of gorgeously strung-out gems with the full reverb-drenched works. Singles You Wish You Were Red, Candy Girl and Strangling Good Guys, deserve to be lavished upon your ears immediately.
Band of the Week, #12: The Waves of Fury.
Most appositely described as a Motown-tinged Jesus & Mary Chain (thanks Paul Lester), they’ve somehow managed to not only mash but mesh together the splenetic, fuzzy guitars and anguished howl of East Kilbride’s finest with the most celebratory horn section heard on a record for… well, a while. Their debut album, ‘Thirst’, is due out on October 29th.
Hosting the Olympics comes in the midst of a difficult period for the UK. In the last few years we’ve seen journalists, politicians and bankers come under intense scrutiny for compromising public trust. Economists predict that the country is on the verge of dipping back into recession for a third time. Austerity measures and riots have kept the papers busy, fees of £9000 per annum will all but price the less wealthy out of university, and, just when you think things couldn’t get any worse, Cher Lloyd’s indescribably appalling ‘Swagger Jagger’ reached #1 on the UK Singles Chart last summer.
It’s a portrait of doom and gloom which even the impending Olympics couldn’t alleviate – in some cases, it just fuelled the fire. The sense in hosting the 30th Olympiad during an economic downturn was questioned vigorously before the Games, and will probably be questioned vigorously after the Games, regardless of their legacy. Detractors heaped scorn upon the Games logo, their mascots and the spiralling cost of the project months in advance, saving their vitriol in the weeks beforehand for the G4S security recruitment debacle, the ticketing process and Olympic Family/corporate privileges such as separate road lanes and plum seats at events. Even following Danny Boyle’s widely acclaimed Opening Ceremony there were digs to be had, as empty seats, a venue food/water shortage and Team GB’s gold medal drought after four days caused public outrage – and let’s not forget the diplomatic crisis incited by a North/South Korean flag mix-up in the women’s football competition just days before the Games officially began.
With such pervasive home-grown press negativity beforehand, the only way to respond was by rebuffing the critics with a well-organised, inclusive Games, a healthy medal total for the home nation, and enough public support to prove that taxpayers wanted the £9.3 billion monster they’d funded. Fortunately, all three boxes seem to have been ticked.
It’s no generalisation or misleading media propaganda that Britain is in the throes of Olympic fever. An estimated 88% of the British population has watched these Olympics at some point, with 27 million watching the Opening Ceremony, while prior to that 10.2 million took to the streets to see the Torch Relay. Twitter has seen almost three times as many ‘#TeamGB’ hashtags in tweets as ‘#TeamUSA’; considering the disparity in population size between the two, and the fact that American viewing figures for this Olympics have surpassed those of any other Games (Atlanta ’96 and Los Angeles ’84 included), this is no little achievement. Their effect has been such that support for Scottish devolution among the public has actually dropped by three percent since July 27th, for which The Independent suggests the ubiquity of Union Flags has been a catalyst. The adage is that the Brits love an underdog; you have to wonder whether the overwhelming public support for London 2012 is at least partly a response to the relentless criticism it received beforehand.
Yet the last week’s national veneration for Team GB is surely a reaction to the negative climate of the past few years. That the country is desperate for an opportunity to party was evident during the Diamond Jubilee weekend, with around 10,000 street parties taking place and 1.5 million people descending on the streets of London to watch the celebrations. The Olympics have built on this air of celebratory patriotism, and offered escapism not only through entertainment, but by making the 541 athletes of Team GB the most important figures in the public sphere for a fortnight. Where Britain’s authority figures have failed us through expenses, phone-hacking and banking scandals, its athletes have succeeded through hard work and determination. That our sportspeople uphold the romantic tenet of ‘hard work = success’, when those with power have consistently shown an appetite for greed and corruption instead, is uplifting to the public.
It’s not just the athletes, either. 70,000 people are volunteering unpaid at the Games; it’s deeply encouraging that these thousands (along with the 170,000 who applied unsuccessfully) were prepared to work for no benefit other than sharing an experience and ensuring the events ran as smoothly as possible. The Games Makers, whose contribution has surely been the most conducive resource for London 2012’s continued success, have not merely carried out their menial tasks; they’ve done them with the best of attitudes, giving the Games a heart and soul. For them to become the defining symbol of this fortnight would befit their altruism and be an inspirational legacy.
What happens when the party’s over, though? While it won’t be over as soon as the Closing Ceremony is, with the Paralympics still to come (half a million tickets for which have been sold since the start of the Games), it will be interesting to see whether the regeneration of east London will be reflected in a rejuvenated public. Whatever the ideological issues with jingoism – primarily, the fostering of a ill-reasoned mindset exemplified by this tweet by Piers Morgan – it gives people a common topic to bond over, creating a sense of community. A sense of community improves public spirit. Could an improved public spirit, then, boost the economy?
It does seem farfetched, but with the Games having had four billion viewers worldwide, there’s certainly potential for a spike in tourism. A palpable national pride is far more likely to endear the world to holidays in the UK than a sullen, apathetic population. As more strangers talk to each other on the Tube about the Olympics, the usual wall of suspicion between the people becomes weaker. In a nation whose paranoia is evident from its surveillance agenda (the UK has 1% of the world’s population, but 20% of its CCTV cameras), it could even be the first step to a shaking off the nation’s ‘emotionally repressed’ stereotype – hardly a bad result.
The London 2012 motto is ‘Inspire a generation’. With what we’ve seen over the past week, hopefully it will be inspiring all generations – not only to get down the gym, but to look to the future with optimism. The success of Team GB’s athletes has proven that background is no hindrance to glory, with many of the most familiar medallists coming from state schools – Bradley Wiggins, Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah to name a few – and can hopefully boost the morale of those the recession has hit hardest. Sport may be escapism, but its consequences can certainly be real – and hopefully the Olympics will mark the point at which Britain regenerates, is reenergized, and resolves the underlying issues that have made the last few years so tumultuous.
(Apologies about lack of embedding – WordPress and CoverItLive do not a happy union make.)
Back by popular demand, this is pretty much the only blog on the internet to provide in-depth analysis of the Countdown series finalists – because I really am that sad! Featuring a finals broadcast schedule [objective], contestant analysis and a round-up of series bests [both subjective].
. My first and previous one of these, for series 65, provided a few more Google hits than expected whilst also stirring up a bit of controversy. You see, I rashly decided to air my slightly exaggerated views on the #2 seed and eventual winner Graeme Cole, suggesting he had potential to be a serial killer. What I didn’t intend was for Graeme (and, later, his mum) to actually read this. Although he took it like a pro, finding it funny, several of Graeme’s fan club didn’t – understandable, as Graeme’s one of the loveliest people you could hope to meet, hence the added disclaimer on the article. About ten apologies later, all accepted, I still feel terrible about this. (SORRY AGAIN, GRAEME. AND GRAEME’S MUM.) …However, I don’t apologise for my opinions on runner-up Carl Williams, who is apparently even more of a douche in person than previously thought possible. (NO SORRY FOR CARL. OR CARL’S MUM.)
. So, onto the present series. To be honest, Series 66 has been a bit of a disappointment. Fewer octochamps, fewer dislikeable characters inviting a rant-fest, fewer potential serial killers who are actually awesome. Plus there’s been the change in host to adapt to; Nick Hewer started very woodenly but has improved, despite still making acerbic comments which sit badly with the show’s nature. Still, there have been some great octochamps, even if none have bantered their way into a huge Jen-bias for the title. This means I have to assess their actual game performances. Boo…
Broadcast Schedule [winners in bold]
QF1; Thursday 21st June: #1 (Jonathan Rawlinson) v #8 (Rob Gibney) [101 - 77]
QF2; Friday 22nd June: #2 (Jack Worsley) v #7 (Mark Murphy) [75 - 52]
QF3; Monday 25th June: #3 (Peter Lee) v #6 (Victoria James) [80 - 73]
QF4; Tuesday 26th June: #4 (Suzi Purcell) v #5 (Nick Hall) [80 - 86]
SF1; Wednesday 27th June: Winner of QF1 (Jonathan Rawlinson) v winner of QF4 (Nick Hall) [108 - 54]
SF2; Thursday 28th June: Winner of QF2 (Jack Worsley) v winner of QF3 (Peter Lee) [91 - 88]
Friday 29th June: Winner of SF1 (Jonathan Rawlinson) v winner of SF2 (Jack Worsley) [70 - 80]
1. Jonathan Rawlinson (8 wins, 850 points)
Opinion: He’s sung in Notre Dame! He plays piano to grade 8! He’s almost at the same level on the violin! He’s off to Cambridge to do Maths in the autumn! He looks like he could be in One Direction! And, somewhat sickeningly, he’s rather good at this Countdown lark too. But before you start rooting for his opponents, “the Kid” [© Nick Hewer] is really quite sweet, with a disarmingly big grin. Yet this just masks ruthless efficiency at the game, casually declaring words like ‘TARTUFO’, ‘SENECIO’ and ‘ACUPOINTS’ like he’s been injecting pages of the dictionary into his arm. However, towards the end of his run he was less impressive [Less impressive = under 100 points in 2 games! Quelle horreur!] – and, with his quarter final filmed immediately after his eighth win, tiredness could affect his performance. When on form, though, he’s outstanding – being one round away from a perfect game in not one, but two performances [his first and third shows] has only been equalled once, by record-breaker and series champion Jack Hurst in Series 63 – but it took him 11 games to do that in [here and here]. Plus he’s only the sixth contestant in the show’s history to have solved all eight conundrums in his heat games… As my mum said, “Is there anything he can’t do?”.
Highest score: 120 (3rd show, against Stewart Calver)
Biggest win: 119 – 24 [95 points] (4th show, against Max Eyre)
Nines spotted: UNDERGOES (3rd show), ACUPOINTS (4th show), ANODISERS (5th show)
2. Jack Worsley (8 wins, 818 points)
Opinion: The last heat game champion of series 65, and of Jeff Stelling’s tenure as host. But fast forward to January and his next seven shows. Much of Nick Hewer’s pre-game chitchat centred on Jack’s university dilemma; should he study Criminology or Accounting? As soon as he took to the numbers rounds of his games, however, it became apparent that he could probably teach most accountants a trick or two with numbers, getting full marks an incredible 23 times out of a possible 24. His letters weren’t shabby either, getting several good nines, shorter but still impressive spots like ‘NEUROMA’, ‘SLEAZING’ and ‘MONETARY’, and inuring Hewer to the joys of amusing declarations along the way (‘FANNIES’ and ‘TRANNIES’). Only short of a century on one occasion, in his eighth game, he’s certainly in with a shout of winning that dictionaries/laptop/OED online life subscription prize package. (Just what every teenage boy wants, eh?)
Highest score: 110 (3rd show, against Catherine Green)
Biggest win: 110 – 44 [66 points] (3rd show, against Catherine Green)
Nines spotted: INDURATES (3rd show), TERMINALS (6th show)
3. Peter Lee (8 wins, 801 points)
Opinion: There’s nothing like a suave Irish accent to add a little va-va-voom to the dreary consonant/vowel picks (apart from Rachel Riley, if you’re that way inclined). Flying over the Irish Sea to return to the show ten years after his first appearance (a loss to eventual Series 47 semi-finalist Kevin Thurlow), he proved his patience had paid off as he stormed to an average of 100 points per game, despite arguably a harder draw than Jonathan and Jack. Cracking words like ‘BRESAOLA’ and ‘OTHERWISE’, one of his four nines – more than any other finalist – made up for occasionally missing a very doable numbers round or two. Should he have rectified that, he could definitely overturn higher seeds – especially if they underperform. Failing that, he should at least charm a good section of the show’s older female viewers.
Highest score: 120 (5th show, v Kieran Bray)
Biggest win: 105 – 15 [90 points] (8th show, v James Belshaw)
Nines spotted: OTHERWISE (5th show), CREMATING (5th show), MORGANITE (6th show), INVENTORS (6th show)
4. Suzi Purcell (8 wins, 686 points)
Opinion: It’s always refreshing to see a female octochamp, and Suzi was the first since Jayne Wisniewski some eight months ago (herself the first female octochamp for two and a half years). Down-to-earth and likeable, she proved that you can get great words and scores without fitting the traditional finalist demographic of young, nerdy male. A few lapses in concentration prevented her from breaking the 700 barrier – her fantastic spot of ‘VINEYARD’ was only marred only by her failure to pluralise it for that elusive 9, while other good spots were misspelt (‘pewits’ instead of ‘PEEWITS’) or misdeclared (‘RACIER’ for a 7 instead of a 6). I’m not sure her flashes of brilliance will be frequent enough to derail those with octo-totals of 800 and above, but it’s not inconceivable.
Highest score: 106 (2nd show, v Jamie Lock)
Biggest win: 98 – 36 [62 points] (6th show, v Paul Magson)
Nines spotted: None, but she made up for it with several stunning eights – ‘VINEYARD’ (4th show), ‘MANPOWER’ (4th show) and ‘MEGASTAR’ (6th show).
5. Nick Hall (6 wins, 588 points)
Opinion: Dispatching his first competitor sadly deprived us of the most interestingly attired contestant since, well, ever – Kerry-Anne Alcock won her first game dressed as a cavewoman, but lost her second game against Nick by a point. Yabba dabba boo. Still, he’s the highest-placed non-octochamp of the series, lifted up to the #5 spot courtesy of spots like ‘FORAMINA’, ‘INDOLENT’, ‘TARPON’ and ‘INPUTTED’. Could be capable of a quarter-final upset, but overturning the top three seems unlikely.
Highest score: 96 (6th game, v Luke Spencer)
Biggest win: 87 – 40 [47 points] (4th show, v Fiona Owen)
Nines spotted: None, though ‘FORAMINA’ for eight was a spot arguably better than some nines!
6. Victoria James (6 wins, 567 points)
Opinion: Robbed! Robbed of at least one more win and a higher placing by the incredibly dubious decision to disallow ‘SEDATIONS’. Apparently ‘SEDATION’ is a mass noun – and the rules state you can’t pluralise mass nouns. Really, though? Can doctors not administer ‘SEDATIONS’ to their patients? It’s a debate that’s been raging long and hard between… err, a few Countdown viewers. ‘SECLUSION’ was allowed though, along with good declarations like ‘MUSTANG’, ‘RAREBITS’ and ‘EQUATOR’ to spur her onto six wins. It’s just a shame that a dodgy dictionary call prevented her from potentially being another female octochamp. She’s probably used to missing out on glory, though – she does work for Arsenal FC…
Highest score: 97 (3rd game, v Aliraza Alimohamed)
Biggest win: 94 – 59 [35 points] (6th game, v Ed Barker)
7. Mark Murphy (5 wins, 454 points)
Opinion: You may not recognise the name, but you probably read about one of his declarations. Every so often, the letters selections offer nothing more – or, at least, nothing more obvious – than a naughty word (with this surely being the best example). And so, in his first game, Mark found himself in the situation where ‘WANKER’ was the longest word he could see. Blogs and websites that should know better breathlessly documented this, and the Facebook generation loved it. Take that, Mary Whitehouse! I didn’t actually see his games due to uni commitments, but I read about ‘WANKER’. It’s certainly more obvious a spot than ‘REAWAKEN’, the maximum from that round, and far funnier too. [This story featured in The Mirror, The Huffington Post, The Guardian and The Telegraph.]
Highest score: 98 (1st show, v Nick Evans)
Biggest win: 98 – 34 [64 points] (1st show, v Nick Evans)
Nines spotted: None. ‘CRAYONED’ and ‘QINTAR’ in his fifth show were his most inspired spots.
8. Rob Gibney (4 wins, 486 points)
Opinion: Exploding onto the scene with a century against the returning victor John Bird, despite declaring an invalid word in his first round, he looked promising as he consistently declared sevens and solved a conundrum in 1.75 seconds (EXPLETIVE – that’s the solution, not me swearing out of rage or amazement at how good this was while not being courageous enough to express actual swear words). He managed another century in his fourth game, but was derailed by a point in his fifth game against Nathan Steggles. Better than his position suggests, but a win in his quarter final would be an almighty upset.
Highest score: 105 (1st game, v John Bird)
Biggest win: 52 point advantage (4th game, v Spencer Taylor)
Nines spotted: None. ‘ASSUAGED’ for 8 in his second game was, in my opinion, his best spot.
Bests and Predictions
Highest score of the series: 120, shared by Peter Lee [episode 5433] and Jonathan Rawlinson [episode 5505]
Biggest win of the series: Jonathan Rawlinson 119 – 24 Max Eyre (95 points) [episode 5506]
Best contestant spot of the series: ‘BRESAOLA’ by Peter Lee in his 4th match. An outstanding 8 from a horrible letters selection, and tricky to spell correctly. Trust me, it took a few attempts!
Best Dictionary Corner spot of the series: While none were as jaw-droppingly brilliant as CUNJEVOIS (in series 65, ep 5344) or QUODLIBET (in a 2010 special), honours from this series are shared between GENDARMES (episode 5446), AIRSTREAM (5401), SEPTENNIA (5467) and CERASTIUM (5494).
Best bit of contestant banter: “What do you want?” asked Rachel Riley, numbers lady and nerds’ pin-up, anticipating that contestant Niall Seymour would ask for one of the numbers round combinations of 1, 2, 3 or 4 large or 6 small. “A whisky on the rocks, please,” he replied instead. This unexpected bit of hilarity was rightly rewarded with a mention on TrueLad.com. [Incidentally, this featured in the same match as the ‘best contestant spot of the series’, episode 5432.]
Best Dictionary Corner guest: Doctor Phil Hammond – always unrivalled for the Steadman household. Expect to see him back in DC to propel next week’s finals games on with crudeness and hilarity.
Prediction for the winner?: Despite the former flagging towards the end of his run, I’d still plump for an all-male gap year student final of Jonathan Rawlinson (#1) v Jack Worsley (#2). Picking one of the two as a winner, though, is intensely difficult; Jonathan has the edge on letters, but Jack proved more lethal on the numbers in his heats. On conundrums Jonathan stands undefeated, but Jack managed a 0.25-second solve during his second show (Jonathan’s fastest was 0.75 secs) – and it’s all about speed. Time to sit on the fence, then…
. The beginning of a new month now signals one thing and one thing only in MLIR Land, and that’s the compilation of a Bands of the Week round-up. Whilst this mostly requires copy ‘n’ pasting, it also takes supreme effort to hunt down pictures and finding the URLs of every website they’ve ever set up across the web – With no further ado, here are the latest four bands I found myself listening to, getting excited about, and promoting as a Band of the Week during May (and, technically, June)…
Band of the Week, #5: These Kings.
Birmingham-based band These Kings emailed me out of the blue, asking if I’d listen to their single, ‘Home’, and its B-side ‘There’s A Light In That Pile Of Snow‘. Although originally worried about how I’d respond to them if it wasn’t great, my pessimism was misplaced. In its four-and-a-half minutes, the A-side builds from a skeletal drumstick solo to a soaring soundscape reminiscent of Bon Iver’s ‘Perth‘, before adding vocals and a show-stealing bassline. Really rather good – and with them supporting big local bands, recording in the studio right now and having a debut song this promising, the rest of the blogosphere will soon be singing their praises too.
Band of the Week, #6: The Yellow Melodies.
A Spanish band of 16 years who really deserve more success than they’ve had thus far. Their trippy cover of The Auteurs’ ‘Showgirl‘ from 2000′s High put them on my radar 18 months ago, as it jazzes up the original with violins, lo-fi production and a gorgeously spidery guitar part on 1:48 – all to devastating effect. Their newest EP, ‘How Television Personalities Learned To Love‘, was released last month and has more of a synth influence (on ‘Look Back In Anger’, my favourite from it, and ’14th Floor’) than their usual material; as with all their catalogue, it’s utterly endearing.
Band of the Week, #7: PINS.
Enigmatic, dramatic, shadowy… but enough about the monochrome ‘Eleventh Hour’ video. PINS are a quartet of Mancunian females whose eerie, fuzz-soaked debut single got music bloggers salivating back in April. Second song ‘Shoot You‘ is more upbeat, but retains everything that makes ‘Eleventh Hour’ so marvellous. Given the strength of both singles, their debut album should be eagerly awaited by any self-respecting fan of new music.
Band of the Week, #8: Shinies.
Imagine Yuck mixed with a between-his-first-two-albums Wavves, and you’ve basically summed up the sound of Shinies, another lo-fi Mancunian band who are yet to release a full album. Beneath an enormous dollop of fuzz, though, are some chaotically gorgeous tunes – as you’d expect from music that’s the love-child of noise-pop and shoegaze. My favourite of their three songs thus far is ‘Spent Youth‘, but ‘Shola‘ and ‘Pillow Talk‘ are also pretty good.
Click the link above to go to the Modern Life Is Rubbish Eurovision Liveblog. I can’t work out how to embed it in this post, but if you click on the link that’ll bring it up.
. There are several excellent things about becoming a fan of unknown bands. One is that they often give away songs for free, and their EPs are usually available for only a few pounds from their website (or, in many of the cases here, Band Camp websites); another is that they’re usually incredibly friendly and grateful online. Most importantly, it proves once and for all that there is good music being produced at the moment, behind the dirgey dubstep and bland ballads in the charts.
. Inspired by these factors, I’ve recently started doing a ‘Band of the Week’ feature on my Facebook page. This mainly constitutes finding brand new bands – be it through Spotify, the Guardian’s ‘New Band of the Day’ feature (though I try not to pilfer from it too much), or through gigs – and promoting them through writing a short paragraph and linking people to their music via YouTube. Here are the four bands of the week so far with the original paragraphs largely unchanged. Hopefully you’ll enjoy them as much as I do…
Band of the Week, #1: Friends.
Brought together over a bedbug infestation, this quintet started a band whose music is, in their own words, “One moment… indie-pop, the next… mutant funk, then disco”. The hype around them is such that they’ve even got their own section on acid-tongued, ttly ironik website/online bitchfest Hipster Runoff, most famous for obsessively slating Lana Del Rey before it was popular. Their first album, Manifest!, is released on June 4th by Rough Trade.
Band of the Week, #2: The Hall Of Mirrors.
Named The Guardian’s 1254th Band of the Day last month, they boast a haunting Gothic/Victorian sound by way of 60s pop production, chiming piano parts and the delicate vocals of Jessica Winter. The absolutely stunning ‘Love Child’ from their EP of the same name is available as a free download from their website.
Band of the Week, #3: Summer Heart.
Swedish pop music is never a bad thing, and Summer Heart – the alias of David Alexander – only strengthens that view. He’s currently one of the ‘emerging artists’ on the We Are Hunted app on Spotify (which, if you have Spotify and like obscure music, you should definitely get). ‘Please Stay’ is my favourite example of his delightful, summery chillwave, best listened to with bass-heavy headphones and a gorgeous sunset on view.
Band of the Week, #4: Shade of Red.
Graham Coxon’s support act when he played Falmouth on April 30th, this Cornish quintet are young but already utterly assured in their craft, and wrong-footed anyone in the crowd who thought they looked like One Direction with instruments. (Guilty as charged.) Boasting an organist/melodica-ist, a drummer whose age may not have yet reached double figures, and originality beyond their years, they could be the best artists to come out of Cornwall since Aphex Twin.