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Archive for December, 2005

THE DALLOWAYS – Penalty Crusade (Bird in Box Records)

Posted: December 31st, 2005, by Simon Minter

Smooth-edged melodic independent pop music of the kind which America seems so proficient, this CD is almost defiantly removed from the ongoing vogue for violent, aggressive and dissonant underground music. The eleven tracks on the album chime and twinkle, with upbeat, clean guitar lines skipping across soft drum patterns at odds with the wistful and heartfelt vocals. This music evokes bands of a different era – McCarthy, the Pale Fountains, even Felt – but it is of course timeless. At times the addition of synths, brass and spoken word can bring things to a fearfully glossy place, but at the same time I can’t fail to love the simplicity and purity of a band like this. There will always be many such bands producing pure pop music, but this one has a grasp of melody, arrangement and brevity which helps them to poke out above the crowd.

Bird in Box Records
The Dalloways

My A-Z of 2005

Posted: December 30th, 2005, by Marceline Smith

You know I’ve been waiting all year to do this again.

ALASDAIR – for patiently re-introducing me to Fun, amongst other things
BUNNIES – I have spent way too much of 2005 stalking bunny rabbits
CHANNEL 4 – Damn you, I wasn’t supposed to get addicted to TV again
DATA PANIK – my favourite new band of 2005
ELEPHANTS – providing the main entertainment of being a corporate designer
FLICKR – my year in photos
GREEN TEA – begone, caffeine
HIS DARK MATERIALS – The stage show was one of the greatest things I have ever seen
IPOD – completely changed my listening habits, probably for the worse
JAPAN – I’M GOING TO JAPAN (my catchphrase for 2005, my most anticipated thing for 2006)
KNITTING – and sewing, as part of www.misofunky.com
LAST FM – See, Crazy Boys IS my song of the year
MONO – home from home this year with the fantastic Plan B and Beard events, our gig with Wolf Eyes and many happy hours just hanging out with friends.
NOODLES – Do I eat out anywhere else than Ichiban and Wagamama? Probably not.
OWW – Brain melting noise at Instal and Glasgow Implodes
PROPERTY OWNERSHIP – In progress. Keep your fingers crossed!
QUIET – Living in a tiny house in a garden, down a lane
RSI – pros: less time on computers, more going out. cons: PAIN, losing touch with online friends
SNOW – on December 29th. Just in time!
THIRTY – My turnaround year, and how
UTER – Still fun, mainly due to good gigs with so many lovely and fantastic bands
WALKING – also rediscovered thanks to living next to the River Kelvin walkway
XENOMANIA/RICHARD X – responsible for most of my pop thrills this year
YOU – for continuing to read diskant. Thank you!
ZINES – I’m not going to get my zine done by the end of the year am I?

DEREK BAILEY

Posted: December 26th, 2005, by Chris Summerlin

I can’t confirm and apologise if wrong but it seems guitarist Derek Bailey died on Christmas Day. My good friend Luke posted the news and a couple of sites seem to know too so unless a bad mistake has happened it looks like the original skronker has gone.
I heard Bailey before I heard Beefheart even courtesy of a friend from my school days called Stuart. He made me a tape of Evan Parker on one side and Bailey’s 80s record “Drop Me Off At 96th” on the other. He wrote on it “This K7 is a bit of a fucker. Bear with it!”. I still have it and I moved through being totally freaked out by it, to not being able to relate to it, to finding it hilarious then baffling then super powerful (with the hilarity remaining).
Bailey mastered technique to make most guitar players shit through their eyes and then decided it was simply not rewarding enough and developed a language on the semi acoustic jazz guitar that seems impenetrable at first but slowly reveals itself as being a plunging-the-depths personal language that actually sounds like incidental music to a Tom n Jerry cartoon. Like Fahey he didn’t wait for someone to put his records out and founded the Incus label pressing records that collectors today would kill for. His sides with drummer Hann Bennick are insane and my personal highlight.
I never saw him play. He was supposed to tour with Fahey under the banner “Guitar Excursions Into The Unknown” but pulled out. I think it was a measure of my tastes that I was shitting it over Bailey playing and had to ask who Fahey was. When he pulled out I wasn’t interested and ended up missing two of my favourite players perform in one foul swoop.
Anyway, expect to read a million better and more gushing (and more sober) tributes but I thought I’d add mine.
As a footnote: Stuart, who got me into Bailey (and Beefheart too!) ended up playing with the man himself recently under the name THF Drenching. A long way from playing drums on Sex Pistols covers with me! XXX

SIGNAL GENERATOR – Output EP (Occasional Records)

Posted: December 24th, 2005, by Alex McChesney

It must be tough to be an electronicist nowadays, it being a genre that’s entered a kind of adolescence. Older forms have a long and fruitful past to draw upon. A guitar-rock band can easily flourish and become massively successful while sounding much like another guitar-rock band that was around thirty years ago, based entirely on an ear for a catchy tune and nice white smiles. Form a folk act, and while there are many qualities that your audience will expect from you, exciting new forms of sonic creation are going to be fairly low down on their list of priorities. Novelty, while always entertaining, holds far less value to a long-established musical genre than it does one for which the listener’s perception is that of acres of new ideas and possibilities stretching into the horizon, waiting to be harvested.

Partly, this is an illusion caused by massive growth spurts over the life of the genre. Hardware which would have required the taking out of a mortgage in order to possess a decade ago is now available, in one form or another, to any back-bedroom tinkerer of a modest income. Undoubtedly a good thing, optimistically leading to the democratization of music and making the major labels sweat, this rush of technological advance has had the effect of stamping a “best-before” date on almost every new work, to the point where the canny listener can place previously unheard records to within a couple of years.

Now that’s reaching an age where, while still a young pup, it actually has some kind of commonly recognized history, electronica is faced with a problem. How to address its past while still expected to be constantly eyeing the future?

Richard D. James gave us one answer with his Analord series of EPs, restricting himself to ancient equipment but approaching it without a hint of nostalgia to produce something that sounds every bit as fresh as you would expect if he allowed himself a less restrictive palette, but which is sonically rooted in his own personal tradition.

For Huddersfield’s Signal Generator, on the other hand, the past isn’t there to be dissassembled and pillaged for raw material, but is a place whose customs and architecture are familiar and comforting. If played this record without any prompting as to its origin, I would have placed it in 1995 sooner than 2005. By putting out an EP of electronic music which has so little regard for recent fashion, Signal Generator seem to suggest that the electronic genre might be one which could do with slowing down, taking a breath, and spending some time coming to terms with its own history before it goes tearing off again. If, indeed, there really is anywhere left that’s worth tearing off to. The four tracks on this record range from the playfully melodic (“Memory Helmet”) to the pleasingly ambient (“Legno Lungo”) or skittishly sinister (“Radix Lecti”) and are all perfectly effective and constructed with a sense of confidence which is admirable. Somehow, they fail to engage as they might, but there’s a sense of promise which, while frustrating at present, suggests that the individual behind Signal Generator might yet unearth something rare and exciting from his personal archaelogical dig.

Occasional Records

THE SWARM – Red Paint On The Odessa Steps (Fight Me)

Posted: December 23rd, 2005, by Stuart Fowkes

Make no mistake, this is nasty stuff. Trenchant, massively-distorted basslines, an entire Luftwaffe squadron of hissing guitars, sing-song Liars-style vocal snippets and The Locust’s misanthropic approach to melody – and that’s just in opening track ‘War Course’. ‘The Night The Rope Broke’ is relentlessly bleak, with some David Yow-style vocal acrobatics weighing in against an almost-industrial backdrop. ‘Rising up Through Your Chest’ complements its menacing coda perfectly by landing a gunship laden with old 70s synths square on top of it, and there are all manner of pleasing digital belches and skwerks punctuating the altogether more analogue aggression elsewhere. Perhaps best of the lot, if you’ve the stomach for it, is the sludgy magnum opus ‘The Last Friend Left Alive’, which finds the middle ground between The Birthday Party’s ostentatiousness and the bullish antagonism of Will Haven and celebrates its achievement by hammering the point home for ten minutes.

Sure, there are times when The Swarm lean a little heavily on their influences (viz. The Jesus Lizard on ‘Shacked Up With The Flies’), but they get away with it, through bloody-minded belligerence if nothing else. Not only are you guaranteed an absolute hammer blow of hardcore barbarism, but there’s measured intelligence waiting underneath all the bombast, each track slipping out of your grasp with a deft sidestep just when you think you’ve got a handle on it. Nasty stuff then, but excellent with it.

Who knows what they’re putting in the water up in Derby, but the fellas at Fight Me Records, who have already put out Fixit Kid and You Judas! alongside The Swarm this year, are starting to put together a very impressive roster. More please!

The Swarm
Fight Me Records

VARIOUS ARTISTS – A Very Cherry Christmas (Cherryade Music)

Posted: December 22nd, 2005, by Fraser Campbell

The theme for this offering is pretty obvious, so I’ll tackle each track on it’s own. I’m afraid to say that the bribe of chocolate coins has done little to sway me, even if I recognise it as a nice gesture.

Mistys Big Adventure – Have Yourself A Psychedelic Christmas

Pretty unispired stuff from a band who’s album I quite enjoyed.

Steveless/Syd Howells – Seasonal Schizophrenia

This is pretty ropey. Steveless often complain of being bored, but the problem is that they almost always sound as if they are.

Tiger MCs – The Way That You Arrived

This is ok, but I personally hate deliberately wishy washy stuff like this unless it’s really well done. Grow a dick.

The Hot Puppies – Green Eyeliner

Lena Lovich meets Altered Images meets Texas. I just don’t get stuff like this.

Sarah and the Johnsonauts – The Lonely Little Elf

One of the worst songs I’ve ever heard. A bunch of half pissed sounding students trying to do Jeffery Lewis. Problem is even he does Jeffery Lewis badly.

Hello, How are you? – Alice The Christmas Pie

A song that took me longer to type than it took me to listen to. Mercifully.

Grand Prix 86 – Everybodys Dancing

Thank God. A great track. About bloody time. This makes me want to ruminate on the intagible factors that seperate good music from bad. But I’ll simply thank the stars that there is at least one decent track on this record, even as it becomes repetative to the point of irritation.

Das Wanderlust – Sleigh Ride

He he, this is quite funny. A “cover” of sorts of the popular Xmas song it kind of reminds me of a friend of my grans who would “Les Dawson” her way through the classics on the slightest pretext.

Giant Robot and the City of Tokyo – Vest

This pretty decent track walks off with the “second best track on the album” accolade. Their mums must be proud.

Container Drivers – In the Bleak Mid Afternoon –

A perfect example of a song that need never have been written.

David Craigie – Christmas In A Can –

This is much more silly, imaginative and interesting. Loads going on here, including a sense of humour. Wee gems like this are the point of compilations like this in the first place I suppose.

Chihiro – The Plans That We Made –

A nice wee tale of Xmas heartbreak here. Sweet, nicely excecuted and intelligent.

Steveless/Syd Howells – This Is What Dying Is Like (Christmas In Swansea) –

Oooow ma lugs. It’s difficult to imagine there is any working technology that can still record something that sounds so bad. The poor sound quality is deliberate of course. Sounding like unfunny students mucking about I assume isn’t. A bit harsh maybe but you generally get much better from these guys.

So, sorry Xmas fans, I’m afraid this compilation is overall much more of a turkey than a cracker.

Cheeryade Music

LIBRARY TAPES – Alone in the bright lights of a shattered life (Resonant)

Posted: December 21st, 2005, by Simon Minter

This is an incredibly bleak, but incredibly beautiful CD. The perfectly-chosen cover photograph of a blurred electrical structure sitting in its environment, reproduced in monochrome, reflects the music within. Heavily reverbed, simplistic piano and guitar melodies are enveloped in found, effected naturalistic sounds to create a windswept intimate music. A little like the more abstract parts of Godspeed!’s F#A#Infinity, this is resolutely solitary listening. Like the best dark, chilly music there is, Library Tapes inject shards of hope and prettiness, keeping well away from repetitively moody textures. The seven tracks making up 33 minutes here are like notes scribbled in the margin of music, leaving the listener to join up the dots and read between the lines.

Resonant
Library Tapes

THE MUTTS – Life in dirt (Fat Cat Records)

Posted: December 15th, 2005, by Simon Minter

As a result of hearing this album, in my mind the collective record collection of The Mutts is made up of nothing but New York Dolls, Sex Pistols, Hellacopters, Black Sabbath and Cramps records. Not that that’s a particularly bad thing, as it’s resulted in this set of barnstorming rock and roll songs which rarely lets up its barrage of growling vocals and riff-heavy slabs of overdrive. This isn’t a clever, intricate or delicate album, but I don’t expect that it’s supposed to be. There isn’t the sheer power of Part Chimp or Hey Colossus on display, or the authentically grimy feel of the Stooges or MC5, but perhaps that’s not what the Mutts are after. If they’ve tried to produce a straightforward, no frills rock record that sounds great in the car as you pull into work, windows down, playing it loud, to try and make out you’re a pretty cool guy and not a faceless office drone, they’ve succeeded.

Fat Cat Records
The Mutts

ZOMBINA AND THE SKELETONES – Staci Stasis (Ecto)

Posted: December 14th, 2005, by Fraser Campbell

This is a very good single which could have been great but for the fact that it’s packed with just a few too many ideas. A very breezy pop tune, “Staci Stasis” would benefit from a clarity of approach that often eludes punk/ska/pop bands like this.

Personally I find all three tracks offered here pretty toe tapping stuff, but given that “Staci Stasis” is considerably lighter in approach than the other two tracks, I would assume it’s a stab at being more universal and I don’t think it will ultimately translate to a large audience simply because of the mish-mash of ideas and styles contained within.

It’s just a personal thing, but I always feel that bands with a highly stylised image and style of presentation have to match that with a certain clarity of vision when it comes to the musical approach. Think Cramps, think Ramones, think Blondie – the walk matched the talk exactly. They could also have done with spending more cash on the mastering.

But I’m being picky. This is a very good single by a good band who sound as if they are having plenty of fun – I just don’t see this particular record breaking down any walls for them, that’s all. Cool free comic though.

Zombina and the Skeletones

PROMOTER BULLSHIT a continuing saga

Posted: December 13th, 2005, by Chris Summerlin

Hi. After hearing Marceline’s grief over the Data Panik support I thought I would share a Myspace exchange I have recently been part of. I admit to being a little surly with the ‘promoter’ concerned but it gets my goat. I’m not interested in naming and shaming so I have removed the promotion ‘company’s name but I’ll spill the beans if you want though I doubt anyone will have contact with them…

Enjoy.

PROMOTION COMPANY: “Hi. ****** *** Events are organising a massive all day gig on the 22nd of january at the The **** ****, ******** 2006 and wondered if you would be interested in playing this gig. There will be about 10 bands playing in all therefore a lot of potential exposure to new fans to broaden your fan base. As well as this there are other gigs available in January throughout the UK. 08th of january *** ******** , ******** 15th of january The **********, ******* 21st of january *** *********,************ 22nd of january *** **** **** ******** 29th of january *** ***** ****, ********* All you have to do to seal a place on this gig is to tell us what address to send tickets to for you to sell! We give all bands 30 tickets in which we get the money for the first 20 and they get the money for the rest! Tickets are to be sold for £5 each giving you a potential profit of £50 I hope you are interested in this offer and look forward to hearing from you soon. ****** *** Events”

ME: “Many thanks for the offer but promoting gigs is your job, not mine. I just play.”

PROMOTION COMPANY: “What? We are event organisers, also how do you promote a show that sees bands playing with no fan base? We are helping bands out here. ”

ME: “”All you have to do to seal a place on this gig is to tell us what address to send tickets to for you to sell! We give all bands 30 tickets in which we get the money for the first 20 and they get the money for the rest! Tickets are to be sold for £5 each giving you a potential profit of £50″
Like I said, I play music, you sell tickets. Its a promoter/performer role kind of thing. I am also a promoter in Nottingham. If I suggested to a band that they should be paid for their efforts based on them effectively doing my job for me I would expect nothing less than for them to tell me to get screwed.
Perpetuating that kind of deal where bands are somehow responsible for the turnout at gigs helps no one, it creates a world of opportunist, lazy promoters and bands destined to play to 20 of their mates week in week out.
Maybe it’s what some folks want but there’s quicker ways to the top in the music world.
It just involves developing a strong tolerance for the taste of cock.
Best, Chris ”

PROMOTION COMPANY: “I am afraid that you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.
If you could tell me how to promote a band with no fanbase but their friends then please do, no matter how many fliers you send out no one will come to see a band they have never heard of. The way we do it is 10 bands each bring 20 people which unless I am wrong is 200 people which is 10 times the amount of people they usually play to.
Do you understand that we have costs to cover?
This way we can guarantee a large turnout and money upfront. What could be better?
Who on earth would go to see YOU play if you did not find people. We dont know your fan base, you do. If you can safely say that if we “promote” the gig, using fliers posters etc that 200 people would buy tickets before the event began then ok, I am wrong.
But if not you have to do the hard work not us. We get the venue sorted, organise the gig and find the bands. We get it all sorted the bands sell the tickets as they are the ones playing the show. Bands mess you around too much saying that they can bring people but never do this way we are saving our backs.
I laugh at your remarks, why should we attempt to sell tickets for a unnamed band?”

ME: “”I laugh at your remarks, why should we attempt to sell tickets for a unnamed band?”
I give in. Because you’re a promoter?

Its all gone a bit quiet since. Awww fuck it. They’re called Silver Fox events. They’re on the world of the Myspace.