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Archive for February, 2005

Fucking hell, SLINT

Posted: February 28th, 2005, by Chris Summerlin

Fucking hell, SLINT. Wow. I forgot how much I like that band. I was a twat and sent a message to one of them on Friendster saying they shouldn’t reform. I also added to that message that if they did I would be there as I am a cocksucker. I am a cocksucker.

New stuff

Posted: February 24th, 2005, by Marceline Smith

Apologies for lengthy delays in getting this next lot online. You’ll understand why when you see the epic article Chris Summerlin submitted entitled ‘diskant Gets The Blues‘. You may be edging away from your screen at this point but don’t be scared. Set some time aside and let Chris educate and entertain you with his best article yet. I live in fear of the day someone takes Chris away from us (which is why I bribe all editors to turn down his pitches).

We also have two marvellous Talentspotter label profiles by Simon Minter with Unpopular Records and Kabukikore. Both are incredibly interesting and full of ideas, insights and enthusiasm. So, welcome to the new diskant updates – where you can learn while seemingly wasting time on the internet!

Also, fame at last for a certain diskant blogger.

Suicide Girls

Posted: February 24th, 2005, by Chris Summerlin

What the hell is it with Suicide Girls? I mean a) I don’t want a girl who’s going to kill herself because call me old fashioned but that’s a turn off – so what’s with the website name? and b) if you want porn there’s not exactly a shortage on the internet.
Why has this website become so big?
People who look at it please let me know, I want to know, I am puzzled.
If I wanted to look at goths with mumps I’d go to Rock City on a Saturday night.

HEY COLOSSUS – Hey Colossus II (Jonson Family / Wakusei)

Posted: February 23rd, 2005, by Chris Summerlin

The main draw with this, the second Hey Colossus long player aptly titled Hey Colossus II, is the emotional depths and insight bestowed upon us by Ian, Bob and James the vocalists in the group.
Like other great lyricists of recent times (Malkmus, Berman, Oldham, Callahan, Neko Case) you feel that it is not only the genius of the words being sung but it’s their context as part of the song in which they fit that justifies their status as genius. Scanlon, for example can sing the phone book and I’d listen but there’s a new sense of maturity and emotional sharpness to his work with Colossus that marks a move into the big league.
Take opener Red Giant for example, when Scanlon steps to the mic and delivers this unforgettable line:
“MMMMWWWWARRRRRRRGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! NNNUGHHHHHHRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!”
it would take a cold hearted human to not just burst right open.
It’s not just Scanlon. In Raise The Flag (The Planet’s Ours) Davies brings forth this couplet of sheer beauty:
“IIIIIIFUUUUUCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKNWAAARRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGG
GGGGRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRWAAAAAAAAAAARGHHHHHHHHHHH!”
Or in the mighty tune Vengeance where the sheer subtlety and deftness of James’ delivery almost renders this wondrous line inaudible
“UGGGGGGG. UGGGGGGG. WWWWWAAAAUUUUUUUURG!”.
If you’re not already rushing for the stores then let’s not forget to look at the music of Hey Colossus. The rhythm section breathes like a creature all of its own. Complex and deft tricksy rhythms are handled and delivered with nonchalance and true beauty. A beauty somewhat akin to someone with really big shoes on kicking you over and over again in your arsehole.
The guitar playing is similarly sparkling. Where mere mortal bands might make do with 1 or 2 guitarists, Colossus use 3. Any danger of them getting in each others way and clouding the tonal palette is rendered null and void by the breadth of sounds they use. At the end of Red Giant one guitar plays a delicate figure along the lines of
“SSSPPPPLLLLLLURRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE”
whereas the other two intertwine around this in a way Television* would be proud of with separate parts that go a little like this:
“WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRR”
and
“SKKKKKRRRRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE”.
It is also rendered null and void because they are deaf. As you will be.
*When I say Television I mean Television if they were mental and had really big amps and did not want to make any friends.
Someone told me Colossus sound like Isis and Neurosis. That’s a sack of shit. Those bands are metal bands who are trying to get arty. These guys have done arty indie to death and now they’re doing metal. Totally, totally different. Better. Less embarrassing. Heavier because the rhythms are more pulse like. Nastier because it’s not just riffs, it’s messy riffs with noise sitting round every note like a scarf of squidgy evil.

Hey Colossus rules.

HELLO CUCA – Gran Sur (GoJonnyGoGoGoGo)

Posted: February 23rd, 2005, by Simon Minter

The first I’ve heard from both this Spanish band, and this fantastically-named Leeds-based label. The album starts out with some vaguely rockabilly-sounding numbers; nicely lo-fi sounding guitar twangs over simple, plodding drums, and wandering melodic basslines. All very pleasant. After several songs, though, what could have easily stayed a twangy pop album becomes something more accomplished, and a Hello Cuca sound begins to emerge.

That Hello Cuca sound, to me, is part rockabilly; jaunty and stylish guitar playing. It’s part Liliput; yelped vocals and relentlessly repetitive rhythm. It’s part Le Tigre; female confidence and brazen poppiness. It’s part Clinic; clomping drumbeats and circular riffs. It’s part Girls in the Garage; a feeling of happy misfits. And it’s part Come on Pilgrim Pixies; knowing-sounding Spanish lyrics.

I’m worried that I’ve just described Hello Cuca as such an obvious blend of other things. Make no mistake, they’re not pure copyists or unoriginal bandwagon-jumpers by a long way. I really enjoyed this album – the fact that it reminds me of other things, whilst also holding off from going too far down any influence’s path, is a fine balancing trick to perfect.

Hello Cuca
GoJonnyGoGoGoGo

Jamie Oliver

Posted: February 21st, 2005, by Chris Summerlin

It’s 8am and I am up early to start a new job. I have just been watching Channel 4 and saw the most heinous item. A trailer for that puffy faced little prick Jamie Oliver and his new TV series about school dinners. That alone would be enough to send me into a frothing rage but this trailer was set to the sound of “Who Put The Bomp?” by Le Tigre.
I know nothing’s sacred etc but I’d rather see Le Tigre used to soundtrack the mass cull of babies than this fucking cockstick’s TV show.

FRANKIE MACHINE – Re-Unmelt My Heart (Artists Against Success)

Posted: February 19th, 2005, by Simon Minter

More quiet, knowingly introspective, refined pop music here, on this album of quiet and delicate songs. I seem to be hearing a lot of quiet and delicate music of late; is there more of it about than there used to be? Or perhaps I’ve become more sensitive and prone to getting ‘all emotional, like’ over the lazy strum of an acoustic guitar and the tug of a sad-sounding vocal.

Like a lot of this kind of recent music, there are smatterings of samples and electronics mixed in with the traditional core of singer-songwriter-style tunes. These are never used here as a diversion or as a needless ‘extra’, rather they add to a well-recorded set which I imagine could work beautifully as a solo live act. Some of the guitar lines here are fantastic folk pickings, which add a (good) country feel to things, and the lyrics have a somewhat ironic and harsh twist to them at times. Things never descend into martyr-style ‘why am I so misunderstood’ simplicity, and I’m left with the feeling that this album will stand the test of time well. I have been falling back into a love of effortless songwriting lately, almost rejecting at times music which is desperately trying to sound new and clever, but which can fall short so easily. The attraction of a well-turned-out song can never be underestimated.

Frankie Machine
Artists Against Success

I hate it when people use Blogs to advertise

Posted: February 18th, 2005, by Chris Summerlin

Anyway, following the break up of the Wolves Of Greece rock and roll band we find ourselves the owners of a pile of equipment which, frankly, we’re fucking sick of looking at. YOU the punter are the winner. Peruse this list and email me at my spanking new email address:
(honeyisfunny AAAAAAAAAT fastmail DOTTTTT fm)

COLORSOUND OVERDRIVER PEDAL – vintage as you like. rare as you like. £quite a lot
SQUIER JAGMASTER – white/red scratchplate, taken a beating but has new improved bridge and plays great (though cosmetically challenged) – £120
HARTKE 4X10 BASS CAB – rude sounding cab with aluminium speakers (no shit). Comes with spare speaker and spare driver – £175
SHIN-EI FUZZ WAH – total nutbar 60s fuzz thing £offers
and maybe an early 80s Squier Strat but that’ll be £350 minimum as they’re rare (check EBay dude!)

and the car that transported them:

1986 SAAB 900i AUTOMATIC. My baby. I call it Sven. Light blue metallic. Very quick. Low miles. MOT to Jan 06. Tax to July. It kills me to let it go but I’m cutting back. £575

also allow me to advertise some gigs I am part of:

FEBRUARY
23 – NAYSAYER, FABULOUS FOXES, NORDIC MILE
NOTTINGHAM BUNKERS HILL

MARCH
4 – TED LEO/PHARMACISTS, HELP SHE CAN’T SWIM, LORDS
HIGHBURY GARAGE UPSTAIRS
5 – TED LEO/PHARMACISTS, RED MONKEY, LORDS
NOTTINGHAM GREENS MILL SCHOOL HALL (DAMN YOU BIG NIGHT OUT)
15 – DEAD MEADOW, STINKING LIZAVETA, LORDS
LONDON BARFLY

APRIL
1 – THIS AIN’T VEGAS, LORDS, COWTOWN, EAGLE EYE
LEEDS FENTON
2 – LORDS, BILGE PUMP (TBC), JOEYFAT (TBC), DESIGNER BABIES
BRIGHTON FREEBUTT

London ones are early starters (Lords 8ish)
See you at ATP.

TED LEO / PHARMACISTS – Shake The Streets (Lookout!)

Posted: February 17th, 2005, by Chris Summerlin

Ted is the great divider among my friends. People I know either love him unreservedly or can’t see what the fuss is about. I have begun to use Ted as a barometer of whether someone is a warm human being worth knowing, or is a cold robot with no heart who will only throw you away like a piece of rubbish should you offer them any affection. It’s that big a deal now.

Why?

Because Ted is the MAN.

His last album Hearts Of Oak is really important to me. It was the only Minidisc my player would read on the flight to and from Australia last year and so I listened to Ted on and off for 24 hours there and 24 hours back. I know this album inside out and I love it. It reminds me of a very hard time but it shines through. See, Ted is all about fighting the fight, wearing your heart on your sleeve and delivering everything with a level of integrity that goes beyond not having a barcode on your record.
Ted is the patron saint of everyone who’s ever dealt with people in the supposed punk rock community who have their complex morals down completely but who are, ultimately, a fucking arsehole.
Ted makes political records and Shake The Streets is an unashamedly political album.

“I’ll put it to you plain and bluntly
I’m worried for my tired country”
(The One Who Got Us Out).

“I want to take it to the president, him and all the cabinet, with a broom
I want to sweep the Halls of Arrogance
sweep the walls of the excrement of these baboons”
(Shake The Streets)

Ted’s been compared to Crass before. You can see why if you’re reading this. I hate comparing
bands to other bands but that Crass comparison was genius because the review (whoever wrote it) declared Ted a mixture of the militant UK punkers and none other than Curtis Mayfield.
Because Ted is first and foremost a lover not a fighter. Or at least when he fights he does so in the name of love and with a heart of oak. This is not just political statement-making, it’s the politics of the individual. Ted knows you can wear a Smash The System badge and be a vegan and never deal with a major label but if you’re rude to the checkout girl in the supermarket for no reason, then being “punk rock” is not going to excuse you from being mean or acting like a twat.

And before this gets so wrapped up in the term “punk rock” that you never want to hear the record, let’s not forget that Ted can really write a tune.
I’ll pull back a second and admit this album was disappointing on first listen as nothing stuck out like Ballad Of The Sin Eater or Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone? from the last LP. But after 2 listens I had 3 or 4 tunes I was into and then bit by bit the songs reveal themselves and sneak into your heart and the gaps get filled and the album starts to resemble a whole that you slowly get to know better and better.
I think the initial disappointment comes from the band being much more straight up on this album. There is little exploration of sounds and with the Pharmacists reduced to a power trio the sound is direct to say the least so the songs sound similar at first and there’s less to hang your hat on. I wouldn’t presume that touring with bands like Radio 4 (who have enjoyed success beyond Ted’s now) has influenced the sounds but I wonder if this new directness from Ted is in part influenced by seeing contemporaries achieve relative success with a much more limited palette – not to mention more limited song writing skills. Thankfully Ted has not cut back on his own song writing skills and investing time in this record really shows it and in the long run the to-the-point quality of the sounds serves to emphasise how good the songs are.
The One Who Got Us Out may as well be a How To guide to writing an emotionally stirring pop punk song. It’s wonderful. As is Little Dawn which sees Ted ditch his sly, funky guitar style for a brief moment and hit some fat rock chords just in case you weren’t aware that the glorious moment was the CHORUS. And talking of CHORUS get a load of Heart Problems which positively leaps from the speakers when it hits its stride.
Picture me doing star jumps with a bit of air guitar thrown in, covered in sweat, grinning. Not a pretty sight but if you’re going to see Ted play live better get used to it.
Ted’s songs have this faintly traditional, certainly celtic feel to them that recalls Thin Lizzy a lot as well as The Pogues. Maybe Elvis Costello. But, well…better because he knows why he’s doing it and he’s doing it for all the right reasons.
Anyone who finds this too straight, too American or too simplistic (Ted criticisms I have heard) is missing the point.
Ted Leo is an American who writes direct, deceptively simple songs. It’s what he does, he’s not trying to do something arty and clever and failing. He makes songs designed to floor you and they do if you let them.
Just go and see Ted and The Pharmacists live if you’re undecided. They preach their gospel with joy and fervour. Before they start playing, take a ten pound note and put it in your shoe. You’ll be needing it at the record stall when they’ve finished.

LOVE AS LAUGHTER – Laughter’s Fifth (SubPop)

Posted: February 15th, 2005, by Chris Summerlin

Wow. Keep em coming. 2005 is triumphant.
I’ve never really heard LAL before. I’ve heard of them plenty. I know all about their links to Built To Spill and the K empire and the under rated Lync. I had an idea of them as being pretty cool and synthetic sounding. I don’t know why.
Jesus, unless this is a total change of direction for them, I have seriously missed out.
I’ve been listening to Dinosaur Jr a lot lately and that in turn led me to get back into Neil Young in a big way. Wilco’s latest tapped into that in me too and maybe it’s more me than the people making the music but Laughter’s Fifth is on the same track and is every bit as successful at marrying great songs to luscious sonics.
The LAL approach is more lo-fi than Wilco’s but every bit as intuitive at serving these songs the best they can.
Opener In Amber is Neil Young & Crazy Horse to a tee with the guitars sounding euphoric, crunchy and joyfully human over a melody that treads that happy/sad divide just like Uncle Neil did so well on Zuma. But it’s far from pastiche: a lot of bands that get the Neil comparison do so only by using cliched country rock sounds but neglecting to look at the simple art of writing a good verse and a good chorus.
Oh and some good lyrics too.
“I am a ghost and I float throughout your house at parties; flirting with your guests sometimes. They can’t see me, but some have even spoke to me. Yeah, that’s just fine. I’m a real nice guy…for a ghost” (I Am A Ghost).
It’s like a proper album should be, the happy songs are happy with a hint of sadness and the sad songs are heartmelters (I Won’t Hurt You – “I’ve been through paradise and out the other side”) still have a tenderness and optimism.
I don’t want to spend this review comparing LAL to other bands because it implies a magpie nature to the band that detracts from their (huge) skills, but that feeling you used to get with Built To Spill is here in buckets. If you’re a BTS fan you know what I mean: Pavement had it too. Where a band can get away with anything, no matter how cheeky because they’re so good. So one band’s ripoff is another band’s gleeful reference. Canal Street is a Lizzy-styled rowdy singalong and it rules (“I GOT IT ON CA-NAAAL STREET”). It has hand claps, a bassline to dance to, a crazy infectious tune, a Hawaiian guitar solo – what more does anyone want?
Every song is a lesser band’s single, the pop is such high quality and when it rocks it rocks too.
Buy this, see them live at ATP (or in Nottingham whydontcha).
Bring on the next winner…
(Picks Prefection by Cass McCombs out of the bag…)