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Archive for September, 2005

How To Swim In September

Posted: September 28th, 2005, by Alasdair R

It was a cold September evening and I was travelling across town to see Misty’s Big Adventure play King Tut’s. Unsure of what to expect, I had hoped to get a listen of their debut LP, The Black Hole, beforehand but I forgot. The free newspaper which litters Glasgow’s buses these days had given them a brief but curious write-up. I had seen it that morning and read it again as I crossed the city on what was my 5th bus journey that day. “Eclectic-Jazz-Brummies” was the gist of the worrying description…

The first band on were called El Jugador, an entertaining four piece consisting of two guys and two girls. As they hit the first chords of their opening song I wondered how long it would be until I thought they were rubbish. As it turned out, I didn’t have time to finish that thought and was quickly trying to stop myself from laughing out loud. Despite this I thought they were good fun, a bit daft and perhaps a bit casual. I don’t know if it was lack of rehearsal or confidence but there seemed to be a certain energy missing. Although they did have a matey charm that made me warm to them a little and feel mean for not liking them more.

Misty’s Big Adventure
was everything I feared and more. Overtly smug and painfully eccentric, I was nauseated by the over-riding pretension. Inventive and catchy arrangements, that owed a significant debt to classic Hanna-Barbara cartoon scores, were overshadowed by pithy lyrics and live ‘sampling’ of electronic nursery toys. In the interest of fairness I should point out that the most of the audience seemed to be able hear something I didn’t and were on the whole receptive to the front man’s dour, deadpan delivery.

I got so angry that the unhappy little man wouldn’t shut up about George Bush, having two brains and ‘tapeworms of love’, and therefore ruining the great music produced by the rest of the highly talented band, that I had to sit at the side and hold my head in my hands. I guess I didn’t get it then, the buttoned down square that I am.

How To Swim in comparison were like a hot water bottle on a winter’s night. A multi layered melt of sounds and instruments, the band teased some great melodies out of what could be easily be an overcrowded mess. There were at least 9 folk on the small stage, the fact that they all could fit was almost as impressive as their beautiful songs.

I had seen them live once a couple of months before and was disappointed to see that, whilst still putting on great show, the band were not enjoying themselves as much as before. I couldn’t help thinking that there must have been some reason, perhaps nerves due to being the last band on, that enthusiasm was not always as it could be throughout the set.

So, all in all, an interesting night. Misty’s might be the more polished band but How To Swim are the ones that I’m looking forward to hear more from.


Posted: September 27th, 2005, by Tom Leins

Parisienne/Mancunian 4-piece The Clerks offer up 5 self-assured slices of fizzy, fuzzy pop on their new demo. It’s a lo-fi blend of Factory cool and Gallic insousiance as befitting their origins. They’ve played with Mercury Rev in the past, but their own sound is essentially a low-budget blend of bubblegum pop and drone-rock.
Best tracks: ‘The Dissidents” narcotic groove is The Velvets-as-remixed-by-Beck; ‘Get Off Stage’ is slurred cowboy angel blues like the Dandy Warhols after a nervous breakdown. Good stuff.

“They are so very proud of their music it’s almost indecent.”
So they should be.


CATNAP – Have You Seen Larry? (Self-Released)

Posted: September 27th, 2005, by Tom Leins

“Catnap was conceived sometime in early 2003 in Zone 5, North London, and was delivered to the world a year later in Brighton – where all its members currently reside.”

Now Catnap have been thrust, kicking and screaming into the big, wide world, what do they sound like?
This is woozy, talkative Sonic Youth-derived pop – at once dark ‘n’ twisted and bubbling ‘n’ playful.
My favourite track is: (deep breath) ‘One Day We Will Grow So Tall That Your Institutions Crumble Beneath Our Feet Like The Spineless Pests They Are'(phew)- which, slightly bizarrely sounds like my old favourites Urusei Yatsura.

“Catnap is still a child, but it is growing up”.
Heaven help us when they discover alcopops, bostik and underage sex…

If you’d like to be part of their grubby, freaky little art-rock riot check out www.catnapmusic.co.uk

HYPOTHETICALS – Burberry Starcraft Sessions (demo)

Posted: September 26th, 2005, by Marceline Smith

It’s been a while. If you remember the deep dark beginnings of diskant you’ll remember the diskant bands – The Oedipus, the Gringo lot and of course The Hypotheticals, the band of diskant stalwart Greg Kitten. Back in those days the Hypotheticals were a fun indiepunkpop band but now they’re back, they’ve ditched their The and they’re a bit angry. Opener Feel (Felt) has some duelling guitars, screamy vocals and a good dose of pissed off that lets you know things have changed round here and you best just get used to it. It’s always good when a band finds some attitude. These new songs have much more of a riffy, punky thing going on bringing Hirameka Hi-Fi to mind, mainly due to the sulky, shouty Essex vocals but also in the frantic drumming and sharp, sparky scrapey guitars. Klobber is the catchiest by far with a weebly twiddly bassline and a fantastic EEP guitar bit that you know they do synchronised moves to onstage. Let’s hope they can keep up this kick-ass attitude and get themselves a new record out.

more info: gregkitten at gmail dot com

Audioscrobbler Finger Pointing

Posted: September 26th, 2005, by Marceline Smith

A new series whereby we call out anomalies in the diskant group charts on Audioscrobbler/Last.fm and let you the reader guess the answer. The exciting part is that only the person who is the answer knows the answer (i.e. the asker doesn’t)

Today: Who else (other than me, obv) has been listening to Girls Aloud this week?

Also, as Simon P rightfully demanded the other week: who the hell’s been listening to Dire Straits??

Make your guesses in the comments. Hopefully the accused will come clean (otherwise this will die a quick death, I guess).

I am finding the whole Audioscrobbler thing fascinating. Do I really like Rachel Stevens more than Hood? Is it surprising that 7 out of my top 10 artists are female-led? Are the RIAA secretly monitoring the stats to see who’s listening to albums that haven’t been released yet, you dirty music stealing pirates? How relieved am I that I listen to my own band less than other people in the diskant group listen to theirs? And why do we willingly give so much information on our lives to the public?

ÖLVIS – The Blue Sound (Resonant)

Posted: September 26th, 2005, by Alex McChesney

What is it with Iceland? You can blame the unending winter nights, glaciers and treelessness all you like, but it’s still hard to credit a single place with producing such consistently otherworldly music. Where, for example, are the Icelandic skate-punks, boybands, and insipid R’n’B divas? It’s an odd state of affairs, but not one to complain about, as long as they keep giving us artists like Ölvis.

Based on the evidence of this, his second album, Ölvis (aka Orlygur Thor Orlygsson) seems less self-conscious than some of his peers, and perhaps a little less fearful of referencing more traditional folk and rock forms without first distorting them beyond recognition. There is little in the way of gibberish wailing, and effects are employed with sensitivity, rather than smothering the music to death in a ham-fisted attempt at creating atmosphere. There’s not much electronic twiddling either, save some minimal organ sounds. Where the likes of Sigur Ros (some members of which guest on this album) pretend to be ghosts, the music on this record seems very much of this Earth. Or, at least, a slightly out-of-focus Earth, endlessly looping the sun with a melancholy inevitability, expressed in psychedelic lounge-folk music.

If there is criticism to be leveled, it is that there’s very little variation to be had over The Blue Sound‘s eleven tracks. It’s perhaps best to take it as a single, lengthy piece, divided into sections that are easily digested on their own, should the mood take you, rather than impose upon it high expectations of excitement. Once you’ve sampled the first couple of tunes, you should have a reasonable grasp of what the rest of the album is going to be like, and whether it is, or is not, for you. However, to these ears, at least, it’s gently refreshing, and I would urge you to try it on your own.


Thoughts for the day

Posted: September 26th, 2005, by Chris Summerlin

1. I hate students. Everyone says that but I hated them when I was one. Yes I know that means I hated myself. They are fucknuts, they don’t pay council tax and they make more mess than anyone else in this city because they need their parents to wipe their arses for them. If that sounds Tory then work in Lenton.

2. Tortoise are ace. I just got the new Burn To Shine DVD and the Tortoise song is the shit. Red Eyed Legends too.

3. A Hartke 4×10 bass cab weighs a lot which is something I discovered at 2.30am as I tripped up a kerb carrying one and left half my knee on the pavement.

4. T-Rex had some riffs.

5. I am freezing cold and my feet smell.

SUPERSILENT – 7 (Rune Grammofon DVD, RDV2047)

Posted: September 26th, 2005, by Crayola

Supersilent are just about my favourite band of the last 5 or 6 years, and so it was with huge excitement that I unwrapped this DVD and put it into the machine.
Just like the rest of their recorded output, this DVD is packaged and presented in the most minimal way to allow the music every possible space to breathe.
In fact the DVD is minimal to the point of not even having a menu – you put the disc into your player and the film begins. You can scan between songs but that’s all.
I guess this is basically Supersilent’s 7th album with added images.
Made up of 6 pieces of music performed at Parkteatret, Oslo on the 16 August 2004, the film is shot in black & white and is wonderfully evocative.
I remember once trying to explain to someone of just how wonderful Supersilent are and in the end taking them to see the band perform at the Purcell Rooms – an hour into the show they were convinced.
Therein lies the beauty of this DVD – being able to watch the four band members working off each other, Arve Henriksen on a wooden chair centre stage surrounded ominously by keyboards and drums, taking the size of the stage and reducing it to the bare essentials for the band.
Supersilent make improvised music that by turns glows, terrifies, enlightens, excites, but above all fills me with joy. Theirs is the sound of fjords in creation, glacial shifts of noise bursting from contemplative phases of subtle sound.
This release then is the perfect introduction for newcomers to the world of Supersilent and easy access into their live world for those already fans.

Name That Tune #2

Posted: September 24th, 2005, by Simon Proffitt

After the successes and failures of the last Name That Tune post, I thought I’d point out a project that Mrs. P started a couple of weeks ago. It’s called Pop Idle (the inspired title was my idea – it’s a pun, see?). The format’s simple: she posts a mystery mp3 once a week, and five guys who generally don’t know much about music (or anything else – me included) try to review it in our own unique, ham-fisted and uninformed way, without knowing who it is. After we’ve all slated it, she reveals who it is, and we all hang our heads in shame as it turns out that it’s someone really famous and the ‘popular music press’ love it, thus revealing how out of touch we are with modern culture.

So, come along and join in – comments are open and welcome and you can all join in and play along, and call us rude names when we say bad things about your favourite bands.

SNOWBLOOD – Being and Becoming (Lawgiver/Super-Fi)

Posted: September 23rd, 2005, by Dave Stockwell

It’s hard to know exactly what superlatives to use to adequately review this album. Snowblood are a band from Glasgow and this is their second album, barely a year since their debut. But how far they’ve come on. In the space of eight tracks spanning just over an hour, they finally manage to match the intensity of their live appearance (recently glimpsed in a full-blooded tour of these isles) and give notice of their likelihood of becoming one of the UK’s most interesting and aurally satisfying bands currently operating.

Snowblood are one of an increasingly bountiful crop of bands exploring the space between ridiculously heavy metal music and the more minimalist and experimental side of “post-rock”. That is, their contemporaries can be named as bands such as Isis, Pelican, Mono (or even Botch and Converge) and how many other million bands that seem to be emerging from the woodwork of late, but comparisons to these fuckos hardly seems fair. To start with, each of these bands I have mentioned have always seemed to run out of interesting ideas (or if you’re Mono, never actually started out with any). What sets Snowblood apart for me personally at least is the fact that they are not afraid to keep pushing at any kind of normal expectations. You might read this, listen and draw comparisons to Neurosis, but it’s not like that’s a bad thing. And this is one hell of a sophomore album from a young and exciting band.

The album’s first two tracks are both sparse and quiet, creating a real sense of foreboding that manages to be earnest without being embarrassing, and when the crushing riffs finally crack open the sky and descend the power of their rage really is affecting. I don’t know how they’ve done it, but somehow Snowblood manage to keep this mood up for an hour without falling into the trap of coming across as po-faced. For someone as jaded as myself, it really is hearteningly sincere and all the for better for having the gall to be so. What’s even better is that they’re not all just foreboding and looming catharsis. Though the epic tracks – such as the all-conquering ‘Black Stars Over Glasgow’ – are probably the main thing to get all hot under the collar about, the unexpected thrashout of ‘The Year of the Bastard’ and some lovely mucking around with textures and sounds throughout the record are what makes “Being and Becoming” so compelling a listen for me.

A quick mention that this CD will also be coming out as a double LP on heavyweight 180gm vinyl in a very limited edition of 500, which I would thoroughly recommend splashing out on.