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Archive for October, 2006


Posted: October 31st, 2006, by Marceline Smith

So, Audioscope 06 took place last weekend and I have just about recovered. My state of ruin was possibly not helped by a free bar the night before in Glasgow and a much delayed, sardine packed debacle of a train journey (so bad the staff announced over the system how we should go about making a complaint!) but it’s always good to see Simon and Stu at the other end and catch up on everything while watching ridiculous films. Hustle and Flow does indeed teeter on the hilarious/terrible knife edge. Believe me, I shall be thinking twice before I throw any more demos down the toilet.

Anyway, Audioscope was upstairs at the Zodiac this year which was entirely preferable – tons more room to set up the merch stall, a proper high up stage, an incredibly loud PA and an offputting walk downstairs to the cakefest (which stopped me eating even more raspberry muffins than I did). I wasn’t jumping up and down with overenthusiasm at the sight of this year’s line-up for once, but it turned out there wasn’t a single band I didn’t enjoy which made the ‘best/worst band of the day’ thing even more difficult than usual. So, here’s my four favourites:

I’m Being Good – being very good indeed. Starting with possibly my favourite IBG song, they hollered, scraped and bounded through their set in perfectly timed precise abandon. Lovely to see Our Tomipus back on stage too.

Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element – still getting better and better and nothing went wrong this year! It’s been a whole year since I saw them and although they’re playing mostly the same songs, they all sound so much bigger and more confident, so much so that I didn’t even recognise half of them to begin with.

Piano Magic – sighingly lovely post-rock tinged sadness which went down surprisingly well after the Trencher/Rock of Travolta/I’m Being Good/Kids in Tracksuits string of exuberance.

Parts & Labor – I was tired and they were ear-bleedingly loud so mostly their set was like having a brain aneurysm. But, y’know, in a good way. I need to spend some time with their recorded output I think and hope for the opportunity to see them again. They also stayed over and were some of the nicest people I’ve hung out with in a long while. I’m hoping Stu will post some more photos of The Tattoo Game which they introduced us to with evil glee. Luckily my drawing skills are passable enough that I didn’t have any new tattoos to explain to my workmates on my return.

If I did have to pick a worst band, it would be Clinic who were merely slightly experimental indie and thus enjoyable without being very exciting.

Manning the merch stall was as fun as always although I was in continual fear of Clinic coming up with 7 tons of multiformatted, multidesign merch but thankfully that never happened. All the bands were really well organised and lovely and I came away with a whole armful of free stuff gifted to me (although I seem to have gifted as many box sets in return).

If you missed it, you’re a fool. I’m already looking forward to next year.

(The less said about my flight home from Birmingham, the better. Although, my train to Birmingham actually went on to Glasgow apparently not arriving there for another EIGHT HOURS! There are no words for this madness. I am now in a quandary over how to get to ATP without wanting to kill myself).

I took a few photos which are here.

THE $HIT – Lock Up Your Ghettoblasters!!! (Shit Music)

Posted: October 27th, 2006, by Andrew Bryers

They don’t mince words, the $hit. Listen to this from their press release: “Lock Up Your Ghettoblasters!!! delivers the urgent technicolor pop chaos that your cynical post-modern soul needs… it’s time to forget everything you’ve been told by MTV and let your miserable ears get shafted by the $hit’s rasping pico-pico rock ‘n’ roll”. Their ambition, it seems, is matched only by their willingness to abuse punctuation.

Now, I’m a not-quite-rehabilitated Manics fan. I have a weak spot for bands who utilise ridiculous hyperbolic over-statements to sell themselves. I’m intrigued…

…and by the end of the first track, I’m grinning like a loon. Gobby punk rock, casio-raping beatmongery, robotic rapping and a full-on 80s hip hop breakdown so cheesy it could only be carried off by true maniacs. This band is totally out-of step with what’s hip right now, they look like complete weirdos, and they’re definitely more fun than whatever you’re doing right now.

The album continues at breakneck speed, blending some of the silliest bits of hip hop, electro pop and punk with a brutal wit and a general disdain for the mainstream. Goddam it, I find myself thinking, they’re right to lambast the current generation of scruffy-haired songsmiths. We have bought into this James Bluntesque serious craftsmanship bollocks, at the cost of the cheap primal thrills that made us like music in the first place. This is what we need.

Several listens later, and just before I become a true believer, it occurs to me that they sound just a little bit like a British Bloodhound Gang. But then, most of the problems with the Bloodhound Gang would be fixed by being British – better influences (at times, the $hit sound like the bastard techno children of the Stranglers), and a sense of humour that extends beyond the female anatomy. And anyway, in order to pen the previous observation I had to pause the music and stop jumping round my room chanting “Smoking crack!/Bombing Iraq!”, so who really has the last laugh?


TIM HECKER – Harmony in Ultraviolet (Kranky)

Posted: October 27th, 2006, by Graeme Williams

I once had a Wagon Christ EP that had a song called “Pretty Crap” on it. The title was not a joke: the song was lovely with lush pads and beats and what not, but despite the self-awareness, it was rather shit. The same can be said for a lot of ambient electronic music. The genre brings to mind images of ravers, MDMA, “chill out rooms”, and pleasant but entirely vacuous aural wallpaper made from Korg presets. Not my scene.

Enter Tim Hecker’s new album, Harmony in Ultraviolet. Tim Hecker (not to be confused with the Mego artist Hecker) is a Canadian electronic musician doing things with guitars and computers that inevitably draws comparisons to Christian Fennesz, even though the two of them are exploring very different aesthetics. Tim Hecker, from his deconstruction of Van Halen in My Love Is Rotten To The Core to the “ambient death metal” of 2004’s Mirages, to his shows and tours with Isis, is working far more at the very outer limits of rock. And I do mean the very outer limits. There are the last vestiges of rock music here, with heavily distorted and computer processed guitar riffing throughout, and occasional bits of percussion buried deep in the mix. This is rock music in the same way that Earth or Sunn0))) are rock music. And yet, with its glitches, clicks, organ drones, and gentle melodies giving a pleasant sense of drift, the album can quite easily be situated in the much-maligned ambient genre. It’s really pretty, yet the fields of static, distortion and sub bass rumble that Hecker’s sonic structures are built on save it from being insipid. I could throw out more comparisons, such as how “Chimeras” brings to mind Philip Glass’s Koyaanitqatsi soundtrack or that “Dungeoneering” seems to take Steve Reich as an influence, but this misses how unique Harmony In Ultraviolet sounds. There’s a staggering amount of influences here, but it all blends and flows together seamlessly.

I give this my highest possible recommendation.

Tim Hecker

MATCHSTICKS – Duvet (One Records)

Posted: October 25th, 2006, by Marceline Smith

I’m always very suspicious of band name changes. They smack of desperate fame seeking, like some major label suit has told them they could do well if only they’d change that stupid name, get a haircut and ditch that fugly/wacky member. I don’t think that’s the case with Matchsticks (or Flying Matchstick Men, as was) although they’ve always sounded like a band hellbent on getting in the top ten who could be sorely tempted to sell their souls, or at least their “indie cred” if they ever cared about such things. But maybe they just got bored of explaining their name to taxi drivers.

Anyway, Duvet is typical Matchsticks fare, all arched eyebrows, knowing looks and waggled fingers; call and response lyrics over Pulp style charity shop pop. It sounds like the theme tune to a Saturday morning kids tv show complete with a wonky Gameboy breakdown in the middle; even the lyrics have that vague open-ended feel that means it all still fits 12 seasons down the line.

Still, there’s something quite annoying about Matchsticks – the too-catchy choruses, the hyperactively histrionic vocals – which kind of makes me want to hate them, even as I put the song on repeat. So let’s hope they do get picked up by Mr Major Label Suit, get their top 10 hits and blank out their indie past with Stalinist impassiveness so that I’d have a proper reason to hate them (while still secretly loving them).

Matchsticks at Myspace
One Records

DARTZ! – St. Petersburg (Single, Xtra Mile Recordings)

Posted: October 25th, 2006, by Simon Minter

Short and sharp, Dartz! bring in two songs on this single in under five minutes. You’ve got to love those song lengths on yer pop singles. Sharing the jerky, excitable structures of bands like The Futureheads and Smokers Die Younger, Dartz! infuse their sound with some of the circular guitar lines that marked out the later work of the sorely-missed Yummy Fur, but it’s slightly marred by vocals which are very much of the shouty-post-hardcore now. For me, ‘St. Petersburg’, for all its brevity and grooving syncopation, isn’t as successful as B-side ‘X-RayBex’, which uses the twin-vocal style to greater effect, reminding of the impassioned pop stylings of Cat on Form. Whilst the bands I’ve mentioned here have a certain idiosyncratic style that defines them as individual outfits, Dartz! still seem to be scrabbling to find a sound that’s their own. I get the feeling that they may get there in the end.

Xtra Mile Recordings

TENDER TRAP – Language Lessons EP (Matinee/Fortuna Pop!)

Posted: October 25th, 2006, by Marceline Smith

You know where you are with Amelia Fletcher. Whether with Heavenly, Marine Research or her new band Tender Trap, you know you’ll be getting sweet, catchy indiepop with sugarsharp lyrics, swooping vocals and plenty ba da bas. Much like Saint Etienne or Stereolab, Amelia’s bands have this specific sound that makes them instantly recogniseable however much they try and push their boundaries. There’s not much boundary pushing going on here, mind you, but it’s all so enjoyably uplifting and uncomplicated that you can’t really complain. Mostly this EP reminds me of Operation Heavenly which was always my favourite Heavenly album so I’m very happy. They even do a song about Friendster and make it feel like it was something from the early 90s (which, with the speed of new internet trends is probably about right). I doubt MySpace will ever inspire anything so sweet. Lupe from Pipas turns up on the final song Como te Llamas? for a sparky bilingual duet that ends things on a high note with a bumpidy beat and the cutest talky bit I’ve heard in a long time. Lovely.

Tender Trap
Fortuna Pop!

iTunes copy protection has been cracked, the BBC reports

Posted: October 25th, 2006, by Graeme Williams

Story here.

“All music sold through iTunes uses the FairPlay system that restricts the use of the downloads. Purchased music can only be moved between five computers and played on an Apple iPod.

Downloads cannot be transferred to players made by other manufacturers, such as Creative or Sony.

The new “workaround” could help companies like these sell iTunes compatible products that could start to scratch away at the iPod’s dominance.”

Pixies To Record New Album

Posted: October 24th, 2006, by Alex McChesney

According to various news sources, The Pixies, having played every venue on the planet during their two-years of “comeback” touring, are planning on going into the studio to record a new album.

I am quite excited – they were, in my opinion, the best rock band ever to walk the Earth, and while I don’t much care for Frank Black’s recent solo outings, The Breeders are still a force to be reckoned with. I am, however, preparing myself for disappointment.

What do you think? Cause for celebration or car-crash waiting to happen?


Posted: October 23rd, 2006, by Marceline Smith

Since no-one reads my nonsense on the homepage I will also post this here:

Believe it or not, the diskant newsletter will soon be resurrected and will be entirely awesome. Turning up once or twice a month, it will let you know about all the new interviews, features and reviews on the site, what’s up on the blog, some tips on cool events and websites you should check out and whatever else we think you might want to to know about including EXCLUSIVE NON-WEB CONTENT. Wowee. You best sign up now if you’re not already a member. You can do so here, and you should get a move on as the first will be going out before the end of this week.

VOICST – Acts Of Fire (Download single, Duurtlang Records)

Posted: October 18th, 2006, by Simon Minter

The confusingly-named Voicst (apparently the name is South African slang for ‘manic energy’, fact fans) offer us two tracks of spirited, melodic indie rock that walks the tightrope between quirky noise and mainstream-approaching Rock Music. ‘Acts Of Fire’ shares a certain style with outfits like Soulwax, Bettie Serveert and the Dandy Warhols – riff-led guitar lines tightly holding together pleasingly straightforward structures. B-side (if such a thing exists on a download single) ‘Sgt. Gonzo’ continues in a similar way, yet ramps up the good-time nature that seems to be at the heart of the band. While some of the odder elements of Voicst’s music – the quirky lyrical arrangements here and there, the hints of darkness around the edges – could lead to a Breeders-style process of derangement, they seem happily entrenched in a sure-footedly normal place. At times, on the basis of these two songs at least, there is a certain reliance on a particular riff to carry a song, but if nothing else Voicst are good and positive sounding. Proper ‘going-out’ music, at least if you’re on your way out to the indie disco.

Duurtlang Records