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Archive for May, 2005

STILLMAN: The Weightless EP

Posted: May 28th, 2005, by Tom Leins

Stillman is the one-man-band alias of Chaz Craik – ex-lead guitarist in Cab – the Britpop band that never were. However, lest i mislead anyone, Stillman has little in common with the cheeky nostalgic bounce of Britpop. After spending two years on the dole eating Readybrek and baked beans (never in the same bowl!) Chaz honed his bittersweet melodies to near-perfection and cobbled together this remarkable EP using a couple of guitars and a creaking PC. With a voice pitched somewhere between Tom McCrae and Magnet’s Even Johansen and a batch of wistful vignettes that put me in mind of the cracked poetry of a post-Britpop Paul Simon, ‘The Weightless EP’ is a truly special record. This is music that glows with confidence; music shot-through with a brave ambitious streak – akin to a dole-queue version of Elbow. Heart-warming stuff.

www.stillman.org.uk

THE SCARAMANGA SIX: Horrible Face (Wrath)

Posted: May 28th, 2005, by Tom Leins

Grandiose pop-noir from the hotly-tipped Wrath Records stable in Leeds…

‘Horrible Face’ is so bombastic it hurts… A swooning, crooning anti-tribute to an “ugly, ugly cow” by Leeds-based body-fascists/Wrath mainstays The Scaramanga Six. It’s easy to admire their epic aspirations, cheeky subversive streak and face-ache taunting agenda. It’s less easy to enjoy the record itself. Not that there’s anything intrinsically wrong with it (the coupling of lavish strings and mean-spirited lyrical content is a nice idea) but the song is tainted for me by the nasty whiff of novelty-pop piss-taking that hovers nearby.

As if to reinforce the point (and bolster their comic credentials), B-side ‘Elemental’ put me in mind of The Darkness trying to coax Electric Six into the back of an old estate car with sweets, puppies and novelty records. Make of that what you will.

However, final track ‘The Throning Room’ is a frantic dose of sweaty care-in-the-community noise-rock, and seems a lot more honest as a musical statement.

Whilst this single certainly isn’t as ‘horrible’ as i’ve probably made it sound, it’s hard to care too much about something as tongue-in-cheek and ultimately (gulp) soulless as this.

Sorry.

www.thescaramangasix.co.uk

THAT FUCKING TANK / MONSTER KILLED BY LASER – do King Crimson

Posted: May 28th, 2005, by Dave Stockwell

First release by brand new Leeds label Run of The Mill, run by Sophie who used to co-run Jealous Records, and this lovely 7″ slab of lime green wax continues in Jealous’ previous series of getting two of the finer bands from the UK’s DIY rock scene to do covers from long-missed music legends. This time around, two of Leeds’ math/punk heroes have a go at tackling the progmeisters King Crimson. Now I can categorically state that I’m not a fan of the KC, but the execution of each of these covers is deft enough to leave the imprint of the performers all over the original songs.

First up, That Fucking Tank have come on leaps and bounds from their early adolescent days as a Kill Yourself side project to start manifesting themselves as a full-on brick-hard party band, and this is their best hormonal discharge yet. As a baritone guitar+drums duo, they’re not afraid to acknowledge being influenced by other famous ultra-smart/heavy-as-shit two-pieces, but also have enough of their own brittle-then-ten-tonnes-of-steel sound and enthusiasm to stamp it all over their version of Red. Ripping up the tempo and reducing the melody to its most functional form, TFT tear free from the fairly leaden pace and sickeningly rich tapestry of sounds of the original to recreate it as an insistent stomping machine. You could almost dance to this shit.

On the flip side, Monster Killed By Laser tackle Larks Tongue in Aspic (Part 2) retaining more of the prog, but also injecting more of the zaniness, some rootronics (no doubt a tongue-in-cheek reference to KC mainman Bob Fripp’s self-acclaimed Frippertronics) and a great big widdly guitar solo over the end. Still a young band, MKBL have seemed to change identity every time I’ve seen them, but to give you an idea here they’re guitar, bass and drums that all do very complicated things together when necessary and then break down to the simplest crunching riff when also necessary. All very pleasing, and even managing to do the old Dungeons and Dragons-style mathery when required without sounding like the pompous arses I’ve always assumed KC to be. Plus, there’s some pleasingly strange squealing sample going on in the background towards the end of the song (the afore-mentioned rootronics?). The recording’s a little tinny, but what do you expect from DIY?

Oh yeah, and packaging is as gorgeous as all Sophie’s other designs. This is good. All is good. We like.

GODDAMN

Posted: May 28th, 2005, by Chris Summerlin

The best FUCKING PUNK ROCK BAND ON THE PLANET are touring.

HOT SNAKES! fool….

But surely you will have to suffer fools, double figure ticket prices and shitty venues to see them?

Unless they play a ssssh hush hush show on Bank Holiday Monday that is….

www.damnyou.co.uk

sweeeeeet!

DEAN CARTER – Jailhouse Rock (Big Beat)

Posted: May 27th, 2005, by Chris Summerlin

There is a message thread on the Drowned In Sound site where people are posting their favourite guitar solos of all time.
I sat and I thought about it. I can think of a few off the top of my head: Clap Hands by Tom Waits (Marc Ribot on guitar), Stereo Sanctity by Sonic Youth, Hell Is Chrome by Wilco, every note ever played by Sonny Sharrock, Precious & Grace by ZZ Top, Howl! By Wolves Of Greece and of course Hot by Golden.
Like the Top 10 albums of all time and ‘if you could kill 5 people and get away with it who would they be’, it’s one of those eternal questions (to most people) where it will continue to change as your tastes change and you discover more music.
Not for me though.
I can tell you my definitive Best Guitar Solo Of All Time. It will never change.
It is by Dean Carter on his cover of Jailhouse Rock by Elvis Presley. Mere words cannot do justice to this slab of genuine cuckoo bed wetting lunacy. Lunacy not only because of what Dean plays but mainly because the engineer must have been off his fucking tits to allow it to stay on the record. Let us give thanks that he did.
Up to the guitar solo, the record is pretty whacked out anyway. A motoring, pulverising version of the original recorded in the red and with Dean sounding like he’s in the middle of a nasty trip and is on the verge of a crying mental breakdown. Then out of nowhere comes his legacy.
I guarantee this will stop any conversation immediately. It makes Sonic Youth sound tame. Essentially, Dean strums his guitar as hard as he can, with no thought to the timing of the song, and runs a metal slide up and down the strings. It is part hilarious and part terrifying. It is mixed so high in the song that the backing track just disappears and when Dean bails out after a few bars you have no idea where the hell you are rhythmically (or emotionally). You feel battle scarred but deliriously happy.
I am trying to track down Dean’s back catalogue (which is reissued on Big Beat) as I am reliably informed this kind of totally unschooled, rabid outburst was pretty much his trademark.
He left the industry to preach the gospel so I am told. On his version of Jailhouse Rock, he already did it.
PRAISE THE LORD.

Lungfish

Posted: May 25th, 2005, by Dave Stockwell

Bollocks. Out of the blue I just found out the new Lungfish album is about to drop, and upon perusing the website for the mighty fine Dischord label I found out that not only was vocalist Daniel Higgs exhibiting his artwork in London, but that he was over here on May 12th:

http://www.96gillespie.com/next_up/index.htm
“96 Gillespie presents a rare exhibition of Baltimore’s noted visionary artist Daniel Higgs’ drawings and paintings. This is the first time his work has been shown in Europe.
Daniel’s work is bold, clean, metaphorical; marrying the physical with the metaphysical, the real with the figurative, the sacred and the profane.
Please join us for a the private view on May 12th. Daniel will be here to share his work and music, with a special performance on the jaws harp.
show runs May 13 – June 9 . 2005 gallery hours th – su . 2 – 6 pm”

Fuck’s sake! Why do I only hear about these things a fortnight after they’ve occurred? Anyone read Daniel’s book(s)?

PLANS AND APOLOGIES – Three Dee Pee EP (Artists Against Success)

Posted: May 24th, 2005, by Chris Summerlin

See, this is just as quirky on the surface as the Mistys Big Adventure record but the difference is PAA can actually write a song and their oddness is not a means to an end, they are an odd band but first and foremost they’re a band that works. They’ve always been a shambolic but fun live proposition but there’s no evidence of that on this EP and it surprises me. The production is hi tech and it suits them. I will defend any band where the vocals are delivered in the speaking accent of the person singing them so they’re up already. Their home of Derby has this history of producing bands who are so self effacing and modest that, ultimately, they write themselves out of contention. I’m not saying PAA need to be cocky or arrogant but they’ve got nothing to think small about, this is no lo-fi indie release, it’s a well crafted pop winner and they should be proud.

MISTY’S BIG ADVENTURE – The Solar Hi-Fi System (SL Records)

Posted: May 24th, 2005, by Chris Summerlin

I agreed to take some CDs to review to clear the backlog a bit. It’s hard, you know. I mean, I always just review things that I love and then it’s easy to write about them because I am enthusiastic. And especially if it’s music I like too. Or a musical form I like. I hate bad reviews, I’d rather people didn’t write anything at all but the diskant bosses say that presents a one-sided webzine and that we need to review everything. So here goes.
I haven’t been a student now for about 6 or 7 years and even when I was one I hated them, me included. I imagine some of them will like this band and maybe buy a T shirt from them at a local gig night with the band’s name written on the front and an amusing drawing. In 10 years time, on a Sunday, they’ll paint the gables on their house wearing said band t shirt and they will comment to their partner (who they will have met in their final year at uni and will still be with) “Ho ho, remember the gig where I bought this?” and he or she will say “Yeah! Wasn’t being a student great!” and they will hug each other. They will be happier than me and you know what, good fucking luck to them.

BLACKHORSE, Notting Hill Arts Club

Posted: May 17th, 2005, by Chris Summerlin

I am somewhat obsessed and naturally drawn to the idea of ordinary people making extraordinary music. I relate to it. Recently I have seen lots and lots of gigs where extraordinary people make very, very bad music. By ‘extraordinary people’ I mean people who have made an effort to be larger than life. People who dress so well it can’t be anything but a statement and therefore the pressure is on me, the observer, to react to it. This intimidates me and I admit it. It’s because I don’t relate to it. The way I figure, it’s music that binds together the people I am talking about. If you spend longer working out your image than you do thinking about what you’re going to sound like then you’re side stepping the point. It’s possible to do both of course and I love a sharp band or performer but when the balance squeezes out the music I feel short changed. Like going into Asda for some ice cream and coming out with a magazine. It’s not what you went in for, good though it might be.
If this ‘intro’ serves to make Blackhorse sound boring I can assure you they are not. Neither are they particularly earnest which is what this kind of talk usually leads to. Don’t think I’m getting all Noel Gallagher – “it’s about the choons maaaaan”.
Far from it.
It’s all about the riff. Blackhorse pound the riff. They hammer it. It’s tribal at times. Like Lungfish they believe in making their point comprehensively and that if something’s worth playing it’s worth playing for 10 minutes; and like Can they have an ability to push the riff to new parts of the brain so it reverses and changes and harmonises while staying exactly the same.
By manipulating the sounds with a multi tracker, samplers and a laptop, unique clashes are created that are at times dark and at other times wonderfully harmonious. Considering I think the band Primal Scream are a bunch of total chancers, they were almost on to something good on Vanishing Point (especially when Kevin Shields started remixing them) and when a harmonica is introduced and looped in the first song I conclude Blackhorse may share this opinion. The first half is instrumental, the second has female vocals and this difference suggests a band in embryonic stages, which they are, but their ability to morph parts into each other and maintain a level of intensity for 30 minutes means that even though they’re still growing they can present something that never looks under formed or slight.
If these folks had a band uniform and some public-transport-unfriendly hairstyles they would be proclaimed as the revolution. However, the fact they don’t and they don’t care and most importantly they are THIS GOOD is a small revolution all of it’s own.

Once again, God bless Popbitch

Posted: May 13th, 2005, by Dave Stockwell

“The Fall are on Jools Holland’s show next week.
Mark E Smith is the only artist in the history
of the show to have a clause in his contract
inserted to state that Jools will not play
boogie-woogie piano over any of his songs.”

Fucking yes!

Almost as good is this email that I imagine every single member of the diskant team received:

Hi, Mr. Stockwell!
I work at Stick Figure Productions here in New York (www.stickfigureproductions.com). We are currently beginning production on a new reality show that’s going to break the mold of reality shows
– it’s the first ever on-line reality show. Showing on AOL.com. Warner Music head Lyor Cohen is headlining a new “Apprentice”-like show for the music industry. The final contestant will produce an unsigned band’s first album and sign them to his or her own label in the WMG family. A good opportunity for any young man or woman looking to make a big leap into the record business.
Now we are looking for possible contestants. Basically asking them to put together a short video about themselves and the local band they believe is the overlooked diamond that they’re going to help break out. If you had any tips or resources
that could help me out, kind of get the word out, I’d appreciate it. It looks like your site speaks to the kinds of people we’re looking for.
Please feel free to e-mail me back or call me at my office: ***-***-****. Thanks for your time and I look forward to talking with you. –Darren

Personally, I’m thinking of recommending Orthrelm. Or maybe Hotototogisu. Or The Skaters. Oh, so many TV-friendly bands to push towards stardom!