Andy Willsher
James Jam
January 31, 2007 AT 05:00 AM EST

For over 50 years, the U.K.’s New Musical Express (NME) has been at the cutting edge of music, from introducing the Beatles to Elvis — for their one and only meeting — to putting out The Strokes’ first release from their website (a free MP3 of their single ”Last Nite”). James Jam is NME‘s new bands editor, and all he has to do is match the glories of the past (clearly no pressure!). Here is his diary of the week…

Three weeks into 2007, and already Xmas and New Year’s seem like a distant memory. All at NME are busy organizing our annual NME Awards ceremony, while I’ve been frantically rummaging through all of East London’s charity shops looking for a cheap suit to wear (and buying scratched Wham! singles out of the bargain bin). Amongst the chaos of seating plans, exploding rockstar egos, and reader-vote counting, we’ve seen the arrival of new albums by a whole host of indie’s major players. In this week alone, new albums have turned up from Maximo Park, Arcade Fire, and Kings Of Leon. Of all of these, the Kings Of Leon album, Because of the Times, is by far and away my favourite of the bunch, primarily because it doesn’t sound one jot like the Kings Of Leon. A little bit Pixies, a lot good; I’m sure you can hear for yourself on any major file-sharing service any minute now, if not the band’s currently under construction website.

Such excitement aside, much of my week has also been spent trying to find someone who’ll hire NME five hand grenades, so that we can photograph amazing new Watford-birthed riot-punks Gallows playing with them in a grotty Camden back alley. Now, Gallows are amazing — they recently snarled at an interviewer that they ”want to ruin music for everyone” — and those are the kind of cats I want to know. However, in the absence of knowing any international arms dealers, our pursuit of explosives has proved tricky. Our picture desk assures me that we can get them (”and some dynamite if you’d like too James…”), but — y’know — this worries me a little. I imagine it would the community of London’s South Bank (and home to NME towers) too.

Later, on Friday night, I popped down to Club NME at Koko, Camden, to see the band those savvy of ear are currently calling ”the best new band in Britain.” They’re called The Twang; five street-smart lads from Birmingham U.K. who make Mötley Crüe look like Magdalene Sisters, sound like the Stone Roses playing N.W.A songs, and, from the moment their brilliant three-song demo came to attention in October 2006, have seen the entirety of the music industry scrabbling for their signature and lobbing millions of pounds at them. Thankfully, after months of indecision (and a whole host of XXX-rated stories about their escapades courtesy of major label expenses accounts), they signed to B-Unique (The Automatic, Kaiser Chiefs, et al) at the turn of the year. For many, Friday’s gig was their first opportunity to see them free from the fluttering of cheque books, and you know what? They’re going to be absolutely massive. All of us at NME are looking forward to what promises to be a bumpy, yet bountiful ride, from here to infamy. You lucky, lucky people.

In other news, many of us in the NME office have become addicted to watching videos of sharks eating stuff on YouTube. Does this mean marine biology is the new rock ‘n’ roll? Unlikely, but we’d certainly rather watch a lacerated seal bleeding to death than listen to the none-more-tepid new Magic Numbers album one more time.

Right — basking sharks away — there’s a magazine to finish…

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