Florida based ANR (aka Awesome New Republic) is comprised of duo Brian Robertson and Michael John Hancock (MJ). The pair met at an audition for the band Empirical Mile at The Frost School of Music at the University Of Miami in 2004. The band’s 2005 debut album, ANR So Far, was the combination of two previously self-released studio albums, Courageous and Witness Now The Birth of An Awesome New Republic. They’ve shared the stage with various acts including, Girl Talk, Animal Collective, and Neon Indian, in addition to twice playing both the Pop Montreal and CMJ music festivals. While the US has enjoyed ANR music for much the latter of the past decade, it wasn’t until their current release in March 2011 that the band delivered their proper full-length debut in the UK titled Stay Kids.
When we first found out that ANR stands for “Awesome New Republic,” the Band of the Day office was buzzing with excitement on what exactly an awesome new republic would consist of. Answers included having a live music budget equal to that of a defense budget, billboards being replaced by album art, all citizens having their own private masseuse, and a team of scientists dedicated to making unicorns. Based on these answers, ANR's “Stay Kids” would be a fitting national anthem for our republic of awesomeness. The opening track from the Miami-based duo's 2011 album, also entitled Stay Kids, is a song for everyone who's ever felt like they didn't want to grow up: “I left the world of the working man/to be immature/and sometimes insecure,” sings lead vocalist Michael John Hancock in a soothing falsetto, amidst child-like glockenspiel chimes. Just after he sings “the world we leave behind,” in barely more than an ethereal whisper, there's a cosmically explosively build up. This is the type of soaring transition that all good anthems are made of, made even more impressive by the fact that ANR consists of just two members (alongside Hancock, there's Brian Robertson on keyboards and drums). Before starting ANR, the duo previously performed together in a five-piece band called Empirical Mile. In 2004, while students at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, they formed ANR. Their debut album, ANR So Far, was released in 2005 and combined songs from self-released albums Courageous and Witness Now The Birth Of An Awesome New Republic. Comparing Stay Kids to their previous releases, ANR has noticeably matured their sound—even if the album's title might lead you to believe otherwise. Take “Big Problem,” which combines “oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh” vocalizations over buzzing electronic elements that could almost be the sound of a futuristic motorcycle revving up. ANR doesn't keep the song on one steady course. Similar to how an extreme roller coaster ride will have sudden stops and sharp turns, “Big Problem” mixes up sudden bouts of silence followed immediately by full throttle instrumentation—exactly the type of music we'd want in our Awesome New Republic.