diskant is an independent music community based in Glasgow, Scotland and we have a whole team of people from all over the UK and beyond writing about independent music and culture, from interviews with new and established bands and labels to record and fanzine reviews and articles on art, festivals and politics. There's over ten years of content here so dig in!

 Subscribe in a reader

Recent Interviews

diskant Staff Sites

More Sites We Like

Archive for April, 2006

AKIRA – Patriot (Orison)

Posted: April 30th, 2006, by Andrew Bryers

It starts with a frail wispy a capella melody: “There’s a bug in my head/And it’s making me dead”.

“Ah!” thinks the listener. “This will be whimsical indie.”

But just as he reaches for his slippers and viola, the poor defenceless tune is jumped by savage feedback and pounding drums swathing it in sheets of noise. Then, it breaks down into a kind of deranged solo guitar sea shanty bit backed with eerie vocal harmonies, before morphing again into the kind of BIG ROCK RIFF that Faith No More used to carve out of solid granite. Finally the original melody resurfaces alongside an urgent hypnotic chant of “Blow yourself up/Set yourself free”, before the whole thing drowns in blissful screaming and noise.

Whimsical isn’t quite the word for it.

I like Akira a lot. They engage in a similar kind of noisemongering hi-jinks to the Test Icicles, but with a style and a way of mixing experimental structure and brutal noise with pure pop melodies that is all their own. They’re no one-trick pony either: the B-side “Atom” threads a yearning starry-eyed vocal through a junkyard of fractured cut-up guitars, ghostly squeals and other detritus that is somehow weirdly beautiful. And to show that they’re not studio-ridden boffins, there’s a bonus live track too. Nice one.


SPRAYDOG – Allison Blaire/Cut on down (NIRFA 7")

Posted: April 23rd, 2006, by Simon Minter

Spraydog have been quietly plugging away with their comfortably familiar brand of fuzzy indie pop for about a decade now, and it’s almost in their favour that as independent music in the main now seems more backward-looking than ever, they’ve stuck to their guns. This means that here there is no knowing irony, no nods to new wave, no desparation for Myspace-heavy, hey-we-could-get-signed-with-this mainstreaming. Whether it’s a good thing that hearing this kind of lazy male/female vocal fighting for vinyl space with warm, rough-edged sweeping guitar lines provokes thoughts of bands that were around at the time of Spraydog’s birth – Superchunk, Pavement, Boyracer, etc – or not, it’s hard not to enjoy the simplicity of decent, buzzing, morose pop music. It’s far from revolutionary or devastatingly exhilarating, but music is currently drenched in seriousness and desperately new music of varying degrees of success. Sometimes it’s no bad thing to play and listen to music for music’s sake.


SMOKERS DIE YOUNGER – X wants the meat (Thee SPC/Detail CD)

Posted: April 20th, 2006, by Simon Minter

Smokers Die Younger appear at first to exist in that currently-popular musical sphere of wry social commentary set to varying eighties-tinged degrees of new-wavey pop. But across this album there are a number of things that, for me, set them way apart from (and in front of) many contemporaries. To explain a specific few of these things: the Breeders-like wailing vocal interludes on ‘I Spy Dry Fear’; the sudden bursts into incredible, lush, horn-tinged musicality on ‘It’s coming straight for us!’; the beautifully sad, beautifully simple jaunt into country blues territory on ‘Three cigarettes in an ashtray’ and the final track’s development from meaningless vocal repetition into bizarre, pounding lo-fi techno. Aspects like these, when combined with the approachable, off-kilter, Pavement-go-angry-indie-pop sound at the core of Smokers Die Younger, result in a richly varied album that hints at true musicianship that is yet to be reigned in by industry pressure, self-consciousness or a reluctance to give things a go in the hope that they work. And they work!

Thee SPC
Detail Recordings
Smokers Die Younger

THE LEANO – Steps to Leanoland

Posted: April 19th, 2006, by Andrew Bryers

For a CD chosen at random from a box at a party, this did not bode well. The cover depicts the artist in the style of one of those rastaman cartoons that in poster form adorn the bedroom walls of adolescent boys between Jordan and “Take Me To Your Dealer”. There’s a track called “Ganjaholic”, for fuck sake.

So, to the Leano, Sri Lankan-origin, London-based MC whose debut album this is, I owe an apology of sorts: this shit ain’t bad. “Steps to Leanoland” is 13 tracks of fuzzy dub/hip-hop beats, nice stripped-down production and Mr. L himself rhyming away with brains and some panache on a variety of ISSUES. Musically, we’re paddling in the same murky waters as Roots Manuva, although what the Leano lacks in the former’s abstract and inventive wordplay he tries to make up in the breadth of his ideas. So on “Twisted Tongues”, he sensitively dissects the identity crisis of a second-generation immigrant, caught between a mother culture he can’t fully understand and an adopted country which keeps him at arms length. “Sex and Lies” uses a sweet little twisted piano loop to challenge media-created myths of male sexuality; which frankly isn’t a debate you’ll hear 50 Cent contributing to any time soon. In fact, sexual dysfunction runs like a thread right through the album from the almost scarily honest account of a paranoia-fuelled impotence attack on “They Don’t Know What We Know”, to the confession “Doctor, doctor I’ve got a psychological error/Every time I wank I see the same terror” on “Messing With My Mind”. The Leano may be in sore need of a couch and a detailed psychoanalysis of his childhood (or maybe just to lay off the smoke a little), but it sure as hell beats the kind of alpha-male fantasy willy-jousting that dominates so much of the genre.

Having said all this, the real problem with this album is the growing sense you get a few tracks in that it’s not really going anywhere, that the meandering pace and gentle musing is all there is. Our boy never really breaks a sweat throughout, even on the more up-tempo “Music We Love” which has a shot at jungle but can’t really muster up the energy. On “Rolling River”, a dirge about how we’re all part of the same, y’know, consciousness, he seems so dangerously close to the kind of Groove Armada coffee table chillerama that sells sports cars to junior managers, that you find yourself wanting to poke the lethargic bugger with a stick until he yelps and yodels like Ol’ Dirty “Captain Beefheart of Rap” Bastard. That might just be me though… And while the link between cannabis use and wooly, half-baked, slightly paranoid social analysis may not have been conclusively established, the references to TV “brainwashng” everyone and money turning us all into “robots” on this album will certainly give the researchers something to go on.

The Leano’s clearly got a lot to say and the brains to say it – even “Ganjaholic”, the source of my earlier misgivings, turns out to be a thoughtful little reggae ditty about the life of a homeless guy in Hull – but after a few tracks it all starts to seem a little pedestrian. I recommend a two-week boot camp at the Public Enemy school of political agitation to give the young man some direction. Still, as those familiar with my sense of humour will know, no album with a line like “I flow/ Like the faeces that flows from ma arse/Ya know ya know the smell when ya pass/Yes!” will be entirely wasted on me.

Recent Activity*

Posted: April 18th, 2006, by Marceline Smith

(Or where the hell is everyone?)


Mogwai – Mr Beast
They’ve still got it, you know. I Chose Horses nearly made me cry on the bus this evening and then We’re No Here almost made my ears bleed, and yet I barely considered the idea of turning it down. If you ever gave up on them, now’s the time to come back. Nothing else is really grabbing me at the moment – I need to invest in some new records (IDEAS PLEASE – preferably tunes to think to on sunny mornings)


Lots of money on a new iPod
Well worth £200 to only listen to 1 Mogwai album. But I can bore people with photos of my flat and video of my band! Now that’s progress.

Too much time on MySpace


A “short break” in Dublin
Since we are going all the way there to play one gig. Any tips on places to go and things to do? I have never been to Ireland before. The next 100 people to mention drinking and Guinness will get a slap.

The RETURN of Asking For Trouble
I have not shaken hands on any “deals” yet but soon, soon… (also new website very soon – it’s chirpy)


Frank Kuppner
The man is a poetic genius (and that’s just his fiction). He makes me realise my inadequacies and enjoy my idiosyncracies. Criminally, his books are mostly out of print but search them out if you can. He writes of murder and memories and minutae with both astounding flippancy and hearbreaking poignancy. If you’ve ever walked the streets of Glasgow in wonder you’ll want to hug his books.

American magazines
I’m regressing again, to my art school days of The Face and prime era Just Seventeen. The Music Issue of Cosmo Girl USA is the greatest magazine I have read in years. Subsequent issues have not held up. I am still enjoying Nylon though.


The Riddler
I was sent these beautiful zines which are so perfectly formed and folded and sealed with sealing wax that I can’t bear to disturb them. I will try soon.

*As opposed to what I have mostly been doing: sleeping.

Sailors are going on tour

Posted: April 10th, 2006, by Jon Goodwin

Hi. Not sure if this kind of self-promotion is appropriate, but its been fairly quiet on here of late so I’ll chance my arm.

My band, Sailors, are going on tour for the first time this week. It would be cool if you came out and saw us and said hello.

Friday April 14th – Spalding, Lincs, The Black Swan w/ Not In This Town and Toys For girls (according to the Spalding Shows website)

Saturday April 15th – Brighton, The Freebutt w/ Cove, Foals, Tired Irie (we’re playing first)

Sunday April 16th – London, The Pullens Social Centre, Elephant and Castle LUNCHTIME SHOW (we play about 2) w/ Valerie and Corey Orbsion

Tuesday April 18th – Bristol, The Junction, w/ The Unit Ama, Colonel K (i think we’re on second out of three, but not sure)

Wednesday April 19th – looks like we may well be doing The Judges Lodgings, York w/ Whores Whores Whores and Chickenhawk

April 20th – Manchester, House Gig @ 33 Anson Road, w/ Breakneck Static, An Emergency and more.

You can hear Sailors at www.myspace.com/wearesailors

Some new festival thang

Posted: April 4th, 2006, by Simon Minter

I just read this:

The UK’s biggest Festival organiser, Mean Fiddler (Reading/Leeds, Glastonbury) announces the arrival of something a little bit different on 14th – 16th July 2006.

This brand new festival is situated in the beautiful grounds of the historic Henham Park Estate in Suffolk. Positioned near the most easterly English coastline between Southwold and Aldeburgh, Henham has been in the Rous family line since 1544. The vision of Mean Fiddler boss, Melvin Benn, Latitude is inspired more by European festivals such as Lowlands, than anything currently on offer in the UK. Expect Music, Art, Comedy, Film, Literature, Theatre, Performance Art, Dance, Sculpture, Workshops, Restaurants and Waiter Service Bars. In short – the best bits of all festivals rolled into one.

Not exactly sure what it means. A music festival? Some kind of art happening? Reading festival without the camping and marauding beerboys? We shall see…

My A-Z of Japan

Posted: April 3rd, 2006, by Marceline Smith

My photo diary is here. Enjoy!

ARIGATO – really the only word of Japanese you need and even that can be bypassed with enough bowing and smiling. I’ve never met so many polite and helpful people, from the convenience store staff that call welcomes in unison as you enter to the gift shop staff that package your purchases with intricate care.
BOTANICAL GARDENS – Our free day in Kyoto was my birthday so we went to the Botanical Gardens. I have a thing about Botanical Gardens. It was the most beautiful day and half of Kyoto had the same idea but this turned out to be the most Japanese thing we did all holiday with not a single other tourist in sight. More fool them. The cherry and plum blossom was out and glorious, there were carp in the lake, a garden of bonsai trees, small Japanese children practicing their English by shouting HELLO at us and plenty of room in between the camphor trees to just sit and relax. And all for fifty pence!
CHERRY BLOSSOM – The Japanese go nuts for cherry blossom and when you see it, you understand why. Our luck was in as the cherry blossom was a little early this year and there were pink and white trees blooming everywhere, usually surrounded by hordes of Japanese cooing and taking photos on their mobiles.
DEPARTMENT STORES – We were urged to go to department stores (indeed, our tourist maps from the hotels mainly had department stores and temples marked on them) but we were highly disappointed by the reality of floors and floors of western designer fashion. The two exceptions were Tokyu Hands, basically a hardware store full of cheap mentalism, and the enormous department store within Kyoto Station where we got lost numerous times and spent lots of money in the stationery department and in the little store entirely devoted to cute bunny-related wares.
EATING – Food was probably the most difficult part of Japan, as the hotel was expensive and proper Japanese places were a bit confusing (especially with a vegetarian sister). However, this did allow me to sample all kinds of random foodstuffs from local shops including some awesome chilli noodles and a very pretty (and tasty) bento box. The snacks were considerable fun as well. I’m now quite lost without my tubes of tiny cake slices and panda biscuits. Typically, the two worst meals I had were the ones on included tour days – some very dull ramen in miso and the ‘western style’ meal of barely warm breaded chicken with spaghetti.Why couldn’t they have taken us out for sushi?
FUJI-SAN – We were so lucky to see Mt Fuji. At first we were told we might not get to go at all because of heavy snowfalls then were were allowed up as far as the Fourth Station but there was thick cloud so no views of the summit. And then the clouds lifted magically for 2 minutes so we could see it and then closed back up. Fuji-san really is shy
GASHAPON – We call them egg machines here, you know machines full of plastic eggs containing toys of some kind. Japanese gashapon are full of amazing things usually for ¥100 or ¥200 (50p-£1). We soon started collecting ¥100 coins purely for gashapon and nearly hyperventilated when we found a little shop entirely for the purpose of gashapon in Shibuya. Best find was in the Pokemon Center – gashapon containing tiny Pokemon-branded working gashapon machines full of Pokeballs. Even better you got to build them yourself in ye olde Kinder Egg style. Awesome.
HELLO KITTY – Japan really takes Hello Kitty to a whole new level of madness. Not content with the usual lines of Hello Kitty, Japan has its own series of tourist souvenir Hello Kitty for literally every tourist attraction and destination in Japan. Hello Kitty Tokyo, atop Tokyo Tower with a camera; Hello Kitty Harajuku, dressed up like a cool teen in tartan and leather; Hello Kitty Kyoto, as a geisha; Hello Kitty Nara, wearing a deer costume; Hello Kitty Hakone, inside a black sulphur-cooked egg…
IKEBUKURO – Our base in Tokyo where we stayed in a rather fancy hotel with 25 floors and an all you can eat cake buffet (which, luckily, we only discovered on our final evening). It also sounds great on the automated train announcements. Ikebukuro, Ikebukuro!
JAPANESE FILMS – I watched two of them on the flight. NANA, based on a manga comic about two girls with the same name who meet by chance – one is in a punk band and the other is the most adorable puppydog girl that ever existed. I loved this. I also watched a film called Beat Kids, about some school kids who set up their own marching band and get back at their nasty teacher who tries to take all the credit. This was great until after the obvious ending where they do a crazy jazz routine at the inter-school competition it then carried on with an ultra-complicated plot about two rival rock bands that got so confusing I gave up.
KAWAII – Everything in Japan is kawaii. It only took about 2 days for our cuteness monitors to be reset at a much higher level. Our first afternoon’s shopping in Tokyo ended in Sunshine 60, a vast labyrinth of shops full of cute stuff where we reached a level of cuteness exhaustion that eventually had us on the verge of nervous breakdown in Toys R Us.
LEGWARMERS – My only actual birthday present on the day since technically being in Japan was my birthday present. Nicolette knitted them for me and I highly recommend legwarmers for cold temple floors when they make you take your shoes off.
MUSEE D’ART GHIBLI – The Ghibli Museum was amazing, one of the many highlights of the trip. The building is full of hidden corridors, nooks and staircases displaying original artwork and Ghibli ephemera, as well as explaining the concepts of animation The Totoro zoetrope is one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen, a revolving set of 3D models that magically come to life via strobe lights. It’s impossible to describe but it truly feels like magic. Biggest disappointment of the trip – adults not being allowed to romp on the huge cuddly catbus.
NARA – Home of the world’s largest wooden building which contains Japan’s largest Buddha statue. All this was very interesting but mostly we were amused by the hordes of “wild” deer that harass you for food. Taken singly they will bow to you for a piece of bread in a rather adorable way. In groups however, they become herds of scary zombie deer mowing down anything that gets in the way of FOOOOD.
ONIGIRI – Rice balls. I wish these were readily available in UK shops. I particularly enjoyed the element of surprise of what random foodstuff might be hiding in the middle. I even bought a big cuddly smiling onigiri pillow to take home.
PLASTIC FOOD – Japanese restaurants have creepily accurate plastic imitations of all the meals they serve laid out in the windows so you can see what’s on offer. Bowls of noodles are one thing but plastic imitation pints of beer made my brain hurt.
QOO – Simon P asked me to look out for Qoo which we spotted in the very first vending machine we saw in Japan. Not entirely impressed by what is basically orange squash in a cool bottle, we were still somewhat surprised not to see Qoo in any of the next lot of vending machines. A couple of days’ searching later we spotted Apple Qoo which was much nicer and thus we slowly got sucked into Qoo-spotting insanity and spent half the holiday peering at vending machines. Thanks Simon. Tropical fruit/milk Qoo – odd but nice. Fanta Grape – awesome. Suntory happy apple juice – double awesome.
RIVER KAMO – In some ways we didn’t really ‘do’ Kyoto, having only the one free day there and spending most of that in the Botanical Gardens (and trying to find our way through the vast, shop-filled Kyoto Station). We had intended to have a wander through the geisha district of Gion (an apprentice geisha being pretty much the first thing we saw after getting off the shinkansen) but the nearest we got was wandering back to the hotel along the River Kamo as the sun began to set. It was a lovely walk but we couldn’t work up the energy to leave the hotel again that evening.
SHINKANSEN – We got the bullet train both ways between Tokyo and Kyoto. The first time one went through the station we all collectively gasped at the speed. When you’re on it though, you don’t really notice how fast it’s going (up to 150km). The shinkansen doors are set remotely in Tokyo so they close on time regardless of whether you’re on the train or not!
TEMPLES & SHRINES – We were on an organised holiday tour called ‘Japan Highlights’ but we soon renamed it the Temples and Shrines Tour. Almost everything we were taken to visit or pointed out were Buddhist Temples and Shinto Shrines. Some of these were indeed amazing but really, how many do you need to see? I am still baffled by the people who went on the optional temples and shrines day out to Nikko rather than have a free day in Tokyo. Thank god for the guy on the tour who joined in our OOHing at the sight of Nintendo HQ.
UENO PARK – We were urged by our first guide Suzy-san, a cherry blossom nut, to go see the cherry blossom in Ueno Park before we left so we squeezed it into our last evening. I’m glad we did as the trees were strung up with lanterns, there were glowing 3D sculptures of animals outside the zoo and swan boats on the lake. I wish we’d had time to go in the daytime as well.
VIRGIN ATLANTIC – This was my first long haul flight and I was frankly amazed at how bearable it was. I’d packed a bunch of stuff to keep myself entertained on the 12 hour flight but barely touched it, thanks to the in-flight entertainment and constant provision of food and gifts whenever there was a risk of boredom. My highlight though was peering out of the window into the night and seeing all the constellations so big it felt like I could touch them.
WEATHER – was lovely, thanks. Snow on Mt Fuji, blue skies and sun for my birthday and warm and uneventful in Tokyo.
SAN-X – Thanks to Alice for recommending Kiddyland, 7 floors of toys and cute stuff. We spent so long on the San-X floor that one of the staff came over smilingly with a basket, obviously realising we were in for the long haul. San-X is impossible to describe but you need plenty time to fully drink in the madness of Mamegoma (honking seals of varying hilarity), Nyan Nyan Nyanko (a cat who likes to pretend to be food) and Wan Room (a set of furniture with dog faces).
YAMANOTE LINE – I am in awe of the logic, order, simplicity and cleverness of Japanese transport which is easier to use in Japanese than the London Underground is in English. The Yamanote Line runs in a circle round the centre of Tokyo and we spent much of our time on it (all the way round in the course of one day). We also fell in love with the Suica penguin, the mascot of Tokyo’s pay as you go rail pass who is all over the rail system.
ZZZZZ…. Jet lag, not fun.