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Archive for August, 2005

Lucky Luke, Data Panik, Beat Trap & The Needles

Posted: August 31st, 2005, by Marceline Smith

This was actually the first time I’d been in Oran Mor despite it easily being the nearest venue to my house. It’s quite badly designed for this kind of gig as it was very easy for everyone to stand way way back and leave the poor bands technically playing to five people. The sound was pretty rubbish as well. Anyway, first up were The Needles who I’d been astonished to hear were still going after them being Aberdeen’s highest hopes quite a number of years ago. Worryingly they still looked and sounded exactly the same as I remember. They’re still highly entertaining to watch but they just don’t have the tunes to justify their performance meaning they ended up looking a little silly (in my eyes at least). It’s the sort of thing that endears you to a bunch of naive teenagers playing for the first time but not a well-established band. Shame though, with some actual tunes they’d really be on to

Next up were Beat Trap – a crap band masquerading as a good band. Initially seeming to fit somewhere in the Rapture/Faint axis of dodgy greatness they soon showed themselves up as just being dodgy new wave. I almost started to warm to them when Alasdair started making ridiculous guesses of their stupid-sounding lyrics until we realised those actually were the lyrics. Then I started to hate them. It’s a while since I’ve been shouting for a band to please, no, don’t play another song, just GO, NOW but they weren’t listening anyway. I can’t deny sniggering when they messed up the end of their last song and had to shuffle off like losers. Entertaining in the wrong way.

Hurrah and hurrah, now it was time for Data Panik. Sound problems abounded and so we were treated to Stroppy Data Panik, giggling and fuming in equal measures. Things did sound a little awry but their melodies are so strong and their enthusiasm so great that they just about carried it off. At the end of their shortened set (a tremendous Cubis, owner of the burbliest bassline in history) Steven got so mad he threw his malfunctioning mic off the stage closely followed by the monitor. The sound man tutted loudly and shook his head.

Lucky Luke headlined and I’d heard good things about them but I wasn’t really feeling it. It was too much of a change of pace, especially for the end of the night. With their folky tinges and multitude of odd instruments they reminded me at times of the underrated Suckle but lacking their poise and sadness. I’m sure I’d like them better on a more sympathetic bill, or on record.

Plan B all day party

Posted: August 31st, 2005, by Marceline Smith

The Plan B all day party was ace fun and I really can’t add much to Alistair
Fitchett’s review (and nice photos) as he’s pretty much spot on. I thought Jens Lekman was adorable but his songs were so cute and heartfelt that I had to leave fairly early before I melted into a puddle of goo. I had enormous amounts of fun and these things should happen more often, even just for getting a bunch of fantastic people in one place at the same time with sensibly volumed excellent tunes playing so you can just talk.

Mark Simpson

Posted: August 29th, 2005, by Chris Summerlin

I am sure most folks who are interested in comics will know this already but I thought I’d put a post up about the passing of Mark Simpson, co-proprietor of Page 45, the comic book shop in Nottingham.
I am not the best person to write a piece about this, my interest in comics doesn’t reach the obsessive levels of a lot of my friends but anyone who can run a business they love with the level of success Page 45 has achieved as well as being such a well loved and respected person is going to be sorely missed.
Go visit the link above if you’ve never spent an afternoon in Page 45 as you probably should.

DIVINA ICON – Little Devils (3-track enhanced promo CD)

Posted: August 28th, 2005, by Dave Stockwell

There’s little worse than the conceit of the record reviewer. Personally speaking I despise any so-called critic who moans about the free music they receive and/or the accompanying joke of a press release. This said; there are some rules of press releases that everyone should be made aware of. So here’s lesson number one:

1. Never attach a glossy photo of the band with your usual promotional guff.

Divina Icon are an extremely handy case in point. Here we have three young (or not so young) men of vaguely sketched backgrounds and a real desire to mark themselves as “different” from yer usual indierockguitars bullshitters that currently clutter up so much of London. Unfortunately, their clothes and make-up appear to have been obtained exclusively from Camden market in London. That is; they appear to be men in their twenties or thirties dressed like teenage Placebo fans. Look at their very professional website here: www.divinaicon.co.uk. (Actually, go take a look at Claudio in the gallery. Poor guy. That eyeshadow doesn’t do him any favours.)

All of this would be pointless bitching if the music didn’t sound like men in the twenties or thirties playing at being in a sub-Placebo/Smashing Pumpkins/early Manics/Suede band. Yes, that’s GLAM and GRUNGE and [WEAK AS SHIT] ROCK combined with KEYBOARDS and HORRIFIC PRODUCTION to make one slightly filthy product geared towards getting signed and making it big in continental Europe. Aha, you observe that they have lyrics that are supposedly pointing out “western social issues” and making cutting political comment about modern issues. Aha, you’re not always sure if it’s a boy or girl singing, such is vocalist Dale’s nasal whine. Aha, you hear they have power chords and are aware that you can use a distortion pedal with a guitar to have quiet verses and loud choruses (though unfortunately no wanky Billy Corgan-style solos). Ooh, they seem to have hired in a session drummer for this CD because there isn’t one in the line-up they present for your delectation. And there are keyboards and all kinds of wanky over-production thrown into the mix to show that they are not only a truly modern rock band for all ages, but they’re also prepared to throw away lot of money in order to present themselves a professionally as possible to A&R men all over the country. Oh Jesus, there goes my finger on the eject button. Oh God, the CD’s gone out the window…

So, um, yes! People who review music on the internet are horrifically conceited. Like me. But then you get bands who are horrifically conceited towards “making it”, and the promotional photograph of a band is always their calling card. Why Divina Icon didn’t just knuckle down and write some songs and start playing together instead of obviously spending far more time and money on clothes, paying people to do them a flashy website, press shots, CDs, stickers and some really bad production on their demo. I just hope it didn’t cost too much, because the results really weren’t worth it.

This review is unfair. I am not a fan of the kind of sounds that Divina Icon make, nor am I part of their target market. So I apologise wholeheartedly for my cynicism and finger-pointing. Let’s face it, I’d probably be far fairer in my attitude towards this CD if it had been recorded in a shed by three illiterate tramps. But the kind of bullshit that Divina Icon display really makes you question why people make music in the first place. Is it because of the sheer love of playing together, or a way to exorcise yourself of particular feeling, emotion or energy? Or is it because it’s all about the money? I’ve got a feeling I know what motivates these three boys, and good luck to them. Joking aside, that CD’s out on the road in front of my house. I’m going to stomp on it right now.


THE FLOATING CITY – Entering A Contest (First Flight, FF005)

Posted: August 26th, 2005, by Crayola

The singer of the songs on this album reminds me a lot of the wonderful Andrew Beaujon.
That’s a fantastic place to begin.
The Floating City have a lot in common with The Lucksmiths (reviewed in the same pile of records as it goes).
Simple, sparse arrangements of guitar, organ, drums and bass – the sound is breezy, wide open.
The whole album sounds like it’s been recorded live in the studio. Actually it sounds more ‘live in the library’.
In places I’m sure I can hear shelves creak and there’s definately someone reading Brautigan in the corner.
And that brings me back to Beaujon – The Floating city make me think of a very particular kind of mythical Americana, that place that Brautigan goes, that Hunter Thompson goes, that Andrew Beaujon goes. It’s not that the band are in any way attempting a Pavement-esque oddball thing.
Not by a long chalk.
But they do make music that feels like Trout Fishing in America. And that’s a good thing in my book.
“You are a weapon in the hands of your enemies”, they sing in “Oh Laughing Girl Upon the Brinke of Death”.
Now there’s a line I wish I’d written.

CHERUBS – A Man Of No Importance (Cargo, CUK7010CD)

Posted: August 26th, 2005, by Crayola

I won’t go on again about all the things that make Th’Franz meaningless.
This single is being pushed by the label using such phrases as, “The finest parts of […] Franz Ferdinand”.
What this record actually is is a band that may as well be a Franz covers band. It really is that close a call.
A record of no importance.

THE LUCKSMITHS – Warmer Corners (Fortunapop!, FPOP58)

Posted: August 26th, 2005, by Crayola

I wasn’t expecting this at all.
Before pressing play and sitting down with a cigarette and yet another coffee I decided I might just read the press release for this album.
There are A LOT of words on the press release.
A lot of very flowery words.
I’m not one for huge tracts about music.
Let the record speak, maaaaan.
So it was with some trepidation that I did eventually press play.
And I’m damn glad I did.
This is a beautiful, melancholy, uplifting album.
From the opening “A Hiccup In Your Happiness” (a good title, no?) I began to get excited. There’s a certain something that antipodean bands do incredibly well. I’m not even sure what the something is (I’m not sure that the bands in question would realise they do it), but it’s there in The Cannanes, Ashtray Boy, The Go-Betweens, and it’s there in the NZ pop of The Chills, The Verlaines and The Bats.
The Lucksmiths’ arrangements are sparse and fragile.
Guitars chime.
Minor chords ring out.
Drums shuffle under the foggy quality of the lilting vocal.
Later in the album “The Chapter in Your Life Entitled San Francisco” is a subtle monster with string arrangements added to great effect.
I don’t know what else to say.
This is a thing of gentle pop loveliness.
Now, what was I saying about flowery writing?

"Ninjalicious" from Infiltration zine passes away

Posted: August 26th, 2005, by Graeme Williams

The creator and founder of Infiltration zine and website, Ninjalicious, has passed away. According to the site:

It is with unexplainable sadness that we announce that Ninjalicious, the founder of this website, and the print zine Infiltration, passed away on Tuesday, August 23, 2005. He had been battling – valiantly, and with optimism, gentleness and a zest for living – terminal illness for several months. Ninj, while far too humble to have ever thought of himself this way, can essentially be credited with founding much of the modern day urban exploration subculture. Many kind people are remembering him here (Thanks, Av.) Rest assured that the website will continue to be maintained in his memory. He has opened so many eyes so wide… it’s the least we can do to carry on his legacy.

He will be missed so very much.

For those not familiar with Infiltration, it was a zine, and later a website, dedicated to urban exploration–exploring buildings and areas not usually accessible to the public: drains, tunnels, abandoned sites, hospitals, and more. Infiltration was perhaps the best known zine and website dealing with urban exploration and its excellent writing and photographs were always a fascinating and inspiring read. I know that the zine was influential to me, and I’m sure that many other readers felt the same way.

I AM ZEITGEIST – 4 Track Promo

Posted: August 23rd, 2005, by Tom Leins

Apparently, the 250th issue of I-d magazine declared the suitably-named I Am Zeitgeist to be one of the 250 hottest new bands/artists/filmmakers/fashionistas of the moment – which, i suppose, is highly plausible. They say they make “music to make your head nod and your feet tap”. I say: a noisy, slightly messy love-in between Kurt Cobain and Steven Malkmus. Their peculiar art-pop strut contains Pavement wooze and Nirvana drawl among other elements – all shot through a darkly-cheeky post-Britpop filter. It’s too early to say whether or not they’re genuine contenders, but they’re an interesting band, who, thankfully sound nothing like the increasingly-tiresome angular punk-funk/skag-fuelled yob-pop musical zeitgeist. Wait and see.


Mogwai, Errors and Trout

Posted: August 19th, 2005, by Marceline Smith

Thanks Mogwai for rescheduling your Glasgow ABC show and not telling me. Luckily a friend mentioned it two days beforehand so I didn’t waste my ticket (which I had to RUN across town for previously).

Anyway, my first time in the new ABC. I was never in it when it was a cinema – although the ABC in Aberdeen was the shockingest awful cinema ever with a certain run-down, £2.50 a film charm – and I like it. Well, I liked it when it was half full. I liked it less when I’d been standing in it for 3 hours peering round tall people. Mostly I liked the disco ball the size of THE MOON. I’m almost not exaggerating as this is the biggest disco ball I have ever seen in my life – truly about 10ft tall and capable of killing many people should it ever fall before hurtling its way down the twisty stairwells crushing hundreds of indie kids under its massive bulk. We afforded it the respect it deserved and gave it numerous looks of awe throughout the evening. I dearly hope this is the zenith of Mogwai’s disco ball collecting career although, if so, I think they’ll have to split up now as there’s no topping that.

The infamous Trout opened proceedings and were fun in an indie punk pop way though their banter was indecipherable. Were they ever signed to Guided Missile? They should have been. That’s a compliment by the way.

“WE’RE AIRWOLF!” mumbled the next band. “WHAT?” we said. I soon figured out they were actually ERRORS mainly through the application of logic + bands connected to Mogwai. Errors are my new favourite band. They were awesome, hella awesome. Imagine The Faint if they weren’t eighties goths. Or if they were eighties goths in a good way. Proper nasty squelchy synths, clattering beats, guitar and vo-co-der. I’m going to pester them.

So, Mogwai. I spent the time beforehand trying to count how many times I’ve seen them live but got stuck at 11 after being unable to remember seeing Mogwai in any Glasgow venue other than the Barras. It’s been at least a year though, hasn’t it? Maybe even two! They always still make me sigh and laugh and break my heart and this was no different. I felt spoiled by the wealth of old, nostalgic tunes (Tracy! Summer with the xylophone bit!) and stupidly happy with the first few shots of RARR noise. By half way through I was listing to myself all the reasons Mogwai are my favourite band (yes, I’m that fickle. Sorry Errors) and Rock Action my favourite Mogwai album (that during a phenomenal 2 Rights Make 1 Wrong) but by ye olde Mogwai Fear Satan I was dead on my feet and yawning throughout and silently wishing for them not to do an encore. They deserved it but how much do I wish they’d played a short quiet song to finish up. Come on, Mogwai. Don’t give them what they want – finish a set without the feedback and then I’ll still be standing there bewitched by the disco lighting instead of edging my way out of the room while the feedback fades so I can beat the crowd down the stairs and on to the bus. I’m old, I know.

(I just checked on Bright Light and this was my 13th Mogwai gig! And I haven’t seen them play any Glasgow venue other than the Barras unless you count their 15 minute set at the ChemU birthday party)