Sunday, 13 January 2008

2008: The Indie Hipster's Guide

So it's about that time of the year when the message boards and blogs are a buzz with talk of who's going to be hot and who's not in the year 2008, the time of year when magazines run articles called things like "The Class Of 2008" and include bands that you were listening to last year. Because, let's face it, you're a hip indie bastard. But in this post 9/11, post-Web 2.0 age, there's so many bands to listen it's almost impossible to know who to look out for, who to name drop and who to avoid; it's getting harder and harder to tell your Twang from your Tunng. In order to help you wade through such shit as Jo Lean And The Jing Jang Jongs and find some good new bands, I've assembled this handy guide to hip new(ish) bands for 2008. GO!

Johnny Foreigner - Champagne Girls I Have Known
We kick off proceedings with this little nugget of noisey indie rock. Johnny Foreigner manage to sound like all the good shouty indie bands of yesteryear with out sounding like they belong in 1998. A kin to Idlewild when they could be described as "a flight of stairs falling down a flight of stairs" with some added nods to Cap'n Jazz. So all in all pretty good.

Fuck Buttons - Bright Tomorrow
Up next we have the indie hipster's noise band of choice, Fuck Buttons. Recently signed to ATP Recordings this song is the lead track from their debut picture disc, released last year. Avoiding the typcial noise band route of yelling into a microphone whilst playing with a delay pedal, Fuck Buttons create semi-ambient drones from layers of keyboard loops and tribal drums before adding some yelling into a microphone. If you're going to namedrop them, just describe them as drone.

So far DANANANANAYKROYD have released two 7"s, both of which are sold out. They debut ep comes out on Jealous Records in March. An important thing to note is that they have changed singers since those vinyl releases. This gives you plenty of opportunity to maximize your indie credibility - if their name ever comes up in conversation simply say "Oh yeah those guys - I only really like their early stuff with the original singer; you know the guy from Kill Yourself?". With this one sentence, your friends and relatives will know that you are far cooler and hipper than they could ever be. You are indie. They are not.

Los Campesinos! - Death To Los Campesinos!
Finally, we have a band who need no introduction. If you don't know who they are then frankly you should not be on the blogosphere. If you need a bit of an introduction, they're from Cardiff, they got signed after 14 gigs and their demo set the internet on fire. Sounding like a combination of Broken Social Scene, Pavement and any other indie rock band you could think of, LC! release their debut album in February. This gives you a month or so to tell people that you liked them before they got popular. But you probably blogged about their demo didn't you?

Here are the songs.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

A New Start

With the start of the New Year, I thought I’d redo the old blog. The original idea was for me to keep a record of every band I saw over the past year, which, whilst a good idea in theory, proved to be a lot harder in practice. Writing something mildly entertaining about every single gig gets a little tiresome, especially when most bands inspire little more than a “meh”. So I’m going to stop talking about every band and every gig; from now on it’s only the good ones. Or the really bad ones, which leads me to my brand new feature, hilariously titled “Congratulations! Your Band Sucks!”


This month’s lucky band is a four piece band from Sheffield called Flat Pack Heroes.
Picture the scene: you’re planning to go and see Liars, you think you’ve timed your arrival in such a way that you won’t have to endure the local support band. You arrive at the venue. You hear a band playing. Worried that you’ve missed the start of the band you plan to see, you hurry through to the stage where instead of seeing the familiar sight of Liars, you’re greeted by the unfamiliar sight of four boys, two of whom are topless, playing something that is best described as bad punk; a band who you cannot take your eyes off, who demand your attention, not because of how good they are but simply by virtue of the fact that they seem to be doing so many things wrong. That band ladies and gentlemen is Flat Pack Heroes.

The obvious place to start is the music – Flat Pack Heroes are best described as a punk band, in that the music they play bears the most resemblance to the Sex Pistols. However, to say they’re a punk band is to give them too much credit. The attitudes and ideas that are implied by the phrase punk seem to be lost on them. In the same way that a gig promoter will excuse poor turnouts, poor payment for bands, poor equipment and poor venues with the excuse that it’s “rock and roll,” Flat Pack Heroes excuse their poor musical output as “punk.” They represent everything bad about punk, right down to the singer’s Johnny Rotten impersonations. It slowly dawned on me that this one was one of the worst bands I’d ever seen, joining the ranks of The Charlie Brown Story, Bickle’s Cab and The Stereophonics. Not only that, it wasn’t the first time I’d seen them.

About two years ago, my old band did a gig in Cheltenham. One of the local support bands was called The Labels. They had their own banner made from an old Union Jack with The Labels written across it. They also did a cover of “I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor”. I think they must have taken a lot of cues from The Arctic Monkeys because they’ve since re-located to Sheffield and renamed themselves Flat Pack Heroes (that bit was probably obvious). They’ve also made an attempt at social realism. I’ve never known a band to miss understand the point of social realism in lyrics – you write a song that the general public can relate to, most likely about how their life is depressing and unfulfilling but your life is great because you get to live your dream of playing in a band until you get dropped a year later (hello Little Man Tate). Even that guy from The Enemy can manage it. You listen to a Pulp record and go from there (or in the case of The Enemy, you steal wholeheartedly from The Jam). Not the Flat Pack Heroes. The best they manage is the charming couplet “She’s a slag/But I bet you’ve had her”. Just read that again to take in how bad it is. And that was the hook in the song. They also managed to name check Topshop, Facebook and Myspace all in one song. Once again they’ve missed the entire point.

The final nail in the coffin of their set came just before they played their last song. They mentioned they had a free demo cd available. This is a good idea. They then proceeded to throw copies of said demo into the crowd. The crowd consisted of about 30 people; only about 10 of these were stood anywhere near the front or paying any sort of attention to the band. You could hear the clatter of unwanted cds hitting the floor. I think one hit a girl on the head. I feel privileged to have witnessed such a desperate plea for recognition. In fact, I feel privileged to have seen such a terrible band.

Did I mention that two of them were topless?

More brilliant features to follow, including Hot New Bands For 2008 and My Favourite Breaks In Music. There probably won't be any more badly done Photoshop jobs.