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Archive for May, 2006

DROWSY – Snow On Moss On Snow (Fat Cat)

Posted: May 14th, 2006, by Alex McChesney

Before the first half of “Snow On Moss On Snow” concludes, you will be imagining that you have the measure of it. On “Treehouse”, Mauri Haikenen randomly drops into growly monster-voice, while “Bakery” sounds like he’s singing to a class of schoolchildren about the joys of bread-making as a career. It’s not that the album is childish; just bubbling over with ebullient joy for life’s small pleasures.

Which is all very good, and you’ll likely be expecting more jolly acoustic singalongs to come. Enjoying them, probably. Worrying that they’ll be getting on your nerves by the end, most likely? But then mid-album track “Good Old Odd Good” proves to be a quirky multi-instrumental. (Is that a harmonium? I don’t know.) It cleverly resets the ears in preparation for a turn towards darkness in the second half. It’s a pity that this album on vinyl, since it’s hard to think of another in recent memory which has divided itself so neatly down the middle, without seeming like two disparate albums welded clumsily together. The acoustic guitar doesn’t get abandoned, but it’s plucked with melancholy rather than joyously bashed, and his voice drops an octave. I’d never go so far as to apply the word “concept album” to this record, because it’s a horrible term with many negative connotations, and I like it more than that, but it might not be too far off the mark to assume a “childhood/puberty/adulthood/old age” structure to it. The second half is far from a gloomy march-to-the-grave, but when it’s positive it’s with tactful understatement. That is until penultimate track “Off You Go All Authors”, where Haikenen bellows over a single pair of accordian chords in the manner of Jeff Mangum. Not like a five year old with a new toy, but in the manner of one who has passed through self-consciousness and given it up at the last minute. And, of course, nothing implies death like a sad piano instrumental like the one which closes the album.

In summary then: nice music by a young man with a brain in his head and more than one trick up his sleeve. A good thing.

Fat Cat Records

From the desk of the diskant Overlord – 13 May

Posted: May 13th, 2006, by Marceline Smith

So, festival season begins this weekend with All Tomorrow’s Parties and I have no plans to be at any festivals this summer. The mainstream festivals look as dull as ever (Girls Aloud at V aside of course) and even looking down the final schedule for the two ATPs I can barely find a handful of bands I’d be excited to see. It just seems like too much noize and all the usual ATP bands who played the last 4 events. Sure, ATP isn’t just about the bands but I do kind of resent it a little when I have to take 3 days off work and spend another £100 on travel etc. I really miss going to ATP though so I will be there in December. I must say, I’m looking forward to writing MAR-C AT BUTLINS on the work holiday calendar. If Thurston Moore books a lot of rubbish though I will be MAD.

Anyway, who needs ATP. This weekend I will be seeing (or hearing, at least) Lightning Bolt in the Grand Old Opry in Glasgow, a country and western themed venue complete with cacti, saloon bar and Man Selling Hot Pies. Should be just about as incongruous a setting as Pontins with its murals and pirate sword shops. The dullness of live shows has long been one of my primary moans and I’m glad there’s promoters like Synergy willing to make the effort to make gigs exciting again by using unexpected venues, putting together surprising line-ups or just getting amazing posters up.

Make sure you have a look at our own Chris Summerlin’s awesome gig posters while I’m on the subject. They really do look amazing all together and they’re all for sale. I’ve got my order in, even though my bedroom is already decorated with too many posters of gigs I’ve played at.

If you are going to ATP have fun. Hopefully the diskanteers in attendance will post their highlights when they return. In the meantime have a read of our new Talentspotter profile, of Pangaea Recordings which is full of advice for anyone thinking of starting a label. It’s reminding me of all the hard work I have ahead of me with my next release…

Current listening: Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan, Otterley, Mogwai, Findo Gask, Errors, West End Girls.

ILL (aka buy things from me)

Posted: May 12th, 2006, by Chris Summerlin

Hello. I should be in Manchester rocking the shit out of people but I am not because all day (a day in which I have so far managed to eat a single apple) I have been puking and shitting like a machine. I normally commend the food from The Wireless Stores on Hockley but seeing it emerge again this morning has left me less than confident about future returns there.
I also have that weird senstitive thing where my arms and legs hurt when they get so much as brushed by something.

Anyway, in the week I reprinted all my poster designs for gigs onto ultra-posh matt heavyweight card and I am selling them all – have a looksy at www.honeyisfunny.com and see what I mean.

Fun with NOIZE

Posted: May 11th, 2006, by Marceline Smith

Excellent article on The Morning News today about circuit bending – Bend Me, Shape Me. This sounds like lots of fun and probably what they should be teaching kids in science lessons. Music science! Lots of cool pictures of circuit boards too which is always a bonus.

I do take issue with his mockery of the Casio demonstration version of Wham’s Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go though. I have a keyboard featuring this and it’s totally awesome. It even makes an hilarious appearance at the climax of the only song I have actually made up and recorded (with my sister) back in the day. I should dig that out and see if it still makes me laugh.

I Love Glasgow

Posted: May 8th, 2006, by Marceline Smith

Many many thanks to 1990s for posting the link to the documentary I mentioned a while back that they hosted for Danish TV*. You can view it online here (link to video is half way down on the right under SE Udsendelsen). It’s basically a post- Franz look at the Glasgow music scene which means nice live footage of 1990s, Lucky Luke, Mother & The Addicts and Franz Ferdinand and bits of chat with Arab Strap, Isobel Campbell, the ubiquitous Stephen Pastel etc. And of course no Glasgow music programme is complete without wee Stuart Mogwai and Barry Burns pissing about town under the euphemism of “showing people around”. This of course means going to Monorail and then Sleazys (as anyone who’s visited Glasgow knows full well) and pointing out that every single person you meet is in a band. All it really lacks is a bit where Glasgow band members insult each other on Myspace and it would be just like the real thing. I haven’t laughed so much at the internet in ages.

* Yes, they did cut out the bit where John introduced me to the camera at the Triptych launch, thank god.

THE TELESCOPES – Auditory Illusions (Double Agent CD)

Posted: May 7th, 2006, by Simon Minter

Flying and Yeah on this CD are reinventions of tracks from The Telescopes’ awesome eponymous album from ’94. They’ve been given the full at-one-with-nature, multi-instrument treatment that reflects the band’s live shows of late; the vaguely recognisable and vaguely audible hints of melody and lyrics from the originals are swathed in rich drones and soothingly tribal rhythms. Sharing the intense depth of sound that is evident in outfits like Sunroof! and Six Organs of Admittance, the 21st century Telescopes have taken that blissful, stoned shoegazer style and smeared it into a naturalistic, anything-goes modern world music. The sounds of making music – scratched strings, random clicks and pops – blend with the music itself to create a whole that is beautiful and precise whilst seeming utterly handmade and fresh. It’s proper ‘head’ music, psychedelic to the core and incredibly rich in content.

The Telescopes
Double Agent

ps. Yes, I am somewhat biased as I have released a Telescopes record myself. However I assure you that my journalistic integrity remains intact.

pps. Relive those blissful, stoned shoegazer days with a selection of classic videos!

HI RED CENTER – Architectural Failures (Pangaea Recordings CD)

Posted: May 7th, 2006, by Simon Minter

With its stabbed guitar lines, ramshackle drumming and freaked-out stop-start rhythmic structure, Architectural Failures’ opening track suggests that this is an album of yet more of the post-everything angular indie rock that is so goddamn hip right now. Then it goes off in a weird direction, with spooked chant-a-long lyrics and atonal synthesised drones forcing a wedge between the traditions. And so it goes on, introducing odd new aspects to what could just have stayed a good, but uninspiring set of songs. The vibraphone used on a large part of the album is a welcome and refreshingly ‘trad’ sound, adding a joyous twist to songs like Magic Teeth and Oskar which evokes that beautifully warm early-Tortoise sound. I don’t know too much about Hi Red Center but to my mind they’re more jazz than rock – more Soft Machine than Doors, if you will – and their music is more about crafting musical shapes than pummelling out rock familiarities. In the same way that a band like Liars arrive at a good place by travelling along a tortuous, complicated, frustrating but worthwhile journey, Hi Red Center don’t seem afraid to open themselves up to new ideas.

Hi Red Center
Pangaea Recordings

Shiny new homepage

Posted: May 5th, 2006, by Marceline Smith

You’ll hopefully have noticed that the diskant homepage is all new and exciting. This has been a long time coming but it took a while to find solutions to the main blight of diskant (= I have no time to keep updating it constantly). So, hope you like it and thanks to Minter for his suggestions and help. You’ll also note there’s now a huge area in the middle for me to blather away about random nonsense (this was not my idea – I am not (entirely) self-obsessed) so expect slightly less of that here. The blogs are due a tidy up also and that’s next on my list. Let me know what you think and keep suggesting events and links we should feature.

Debut albums

Posted: May 3rd, 2006, by Simon Proffitt

Some bands just come out of nowhere with something incredible, new and fully formed – like as if you’re walking down the street and then someone suddenly steps out of a shop doorway and clubs you over the head with a frozen trout. Other great acts creep up slowly and grow on you as they grow themselves. Lots of awesome and well-known bands have obscure and mysterious origins with potentially embarrassing limited edition/low budget/simply not very good debuts. Others simply churn out so many records that it’s easy to lose track of which was released when. It struck me just now while listening to Swervedriver what an awesome debut album Raise is, and how they never really did anything to match it. And then by comparison I thought about Oval, a band I love with all my heart, and how their debut, Wohnton, is pretty lame. And then how Spiderland is so superior to Tweeze.

So here, for no good reason, is a list of 30 of the greatest debut albums of all time (in my biased, not particularly knowledgable opinion, and as far as I can remember). In the interests of discussion, who have I missed?

Swervedriver – Raise
Panasonic – Vakio
Fushitsusha – I
Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced?
The Smiths
The Fall – Live at the Witch Trials
Can – Monster Movie (or Delay, whichever you want to class as their debut)
Moonshake – Eva Luna
Mogwai – Young Team
The Pop Group – Y
AMP – Sirenes
This Heat
Cocteau Twins – Garlands
AMM – AMMusic
Erase Errata – Other Animals
Napalm Death – Scum
Nirvana – Bleach
Part Chimp – Chart Pimp
Polvo – Cor-crane Secret
Laddio Bolocko – The Strange Warmings Of
Rollerskate Skinny – Shoulder Voices
Scott Walker – Scott
Lemon Kittens – We Buy A Hammer For Daddy
The Stooges
Pink Floyd – Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
LFO – Frequencies
Einstürzende Neubauten – Kollaps
Happy Flowers – My Skin Covers My Body

VOLUMEN – Science Faction (Wäntage USA CD)

Posted: May 3rd, 2006, by Simon Minter

The world is overrun with cynicism and misery, and it’s entirely wasted on Volumen. Despite this album being, in the cold light of day, all over the place stylistically, it’s tied together by an unerring positivity and sparky YIP!manship that it’s near impossible not to surrender to, let alone to ignore. Over its fifteen tracks the album smears zippy weirdopop – which will please fans of Flaming Lips, Pavement, Man or Astroman or even Sonic Youth in their lighter moods – in all kinds of crazed directions. Within songs, and the work as a whole, there are countless surprising forays into noise, rock’n’roll, synth-driven indie-pop, strident pomp-rock, hell, even musique concrète! But whilst many bands are scuppered by their inventiveness and willingness to experiment, Volumen seem to have delivered something of a prog-indie-rock small masterpiece. The weirdness is beautifully kept in check, the confusion offset by pure pop sensibilities and a musicianship and proficiency that is almost relentlessly charming and captivating. Science Faction is heavy in concept, but playably light in conception.

Wäntage USA