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Archive for February, 2007

DARTZ! – This Is My Ship (CD, Xtra Mile Recordings)

Posted: February 17th, 2007, by Simon Minter

What with Arctic Monkeys, Futureheads and the (geographically realigned from Oxford to Ashby de la Zouche) Young Knives all achieving varying degrees of success and fame lately, not to mention the constantly impressive output of bands from places like Leeds and Nottingham, it seems that a non-Southern demographic is driving a lot of indie music these days. That’s not to say that London isn’t still a focus for bands and the music industry, but it’s interesting that bands that exist in distant locations, far from the perceived centre of music, seem to have much more fun in their music. It’s refreshing to hear enjoyment and silliness in music at times, as opposed to relentless grit and ‘real’-ness.

Dartz! have no short supply of bouncing, ‘up’ songs, on the basis of this, their debut album. They’re at the connecting point of the melodic straightforwardness evident in the music of the aforementioned bands, and the complex guitar patterns and syncopated rhythm structures of more hip, in-the-know outfits like Battles and Foals. What stops Dartz! from turning out twelve songs of middling copyist style-over-content short term appeal – which is, I’m sure, all that many of their contemporaries are capable of – is a genuine skill at assembling songs and injecting just enough individuality to hint at great things to come.

So for every melody-rich, comfortably familiar tune like previous single ‘Once, twice, again!’ or ‘Laser Eyers’, which fit right in with the listening habits of hip young haircuts about town, there is a glimpse into a depth of ingenuity and quality evident here. Be it ‘Prego Triangolos’ with its falsetto backing vocals, ‘St. Petersburg’ with its ridiculously catchy funk rhythm section, or the unnamed secret track which effortlessly develops Tortoise-like lazy repetitions into dreamy Explosions In The Sky-style layers of distortion and echo, Dartz! have done on this album what I hoped they would. They’ve taken a template of influences and style which currently works well for many bands right now, and started to twist it with their own ideas and skill into something new. What’s very exciting is that they seem to be able to capture that magic combination of radio-friendly recognition and beard-stroker-friendly quirkiness. This is how bands become influential, rather than being purely based on their influences.

Dartz!
Xtra Mile Recordings

Berlin

Posted: February 13th, 2007, by Chris Summerlin

I went to Berlin, it snowed. It was beautiful. And a bit scary in a Gothic, Eastern-Block kind of way.
I took hundreds of pictures. Waste time by viweing them here:
www.flickr.com/photos/sumlin

What bands and labels do you want to see on diskant?

Posted: February 12th, 2007, by Simon Minter

A bit of market research, if you all don’t mind. We here at diskant are eager to hear your suggestions for bands and labels (and indeed anything else) that you would like to see featured/interviewed on the site. We can’t promise anything (especially if you want to see an interview with Elton John or something), but it’d be great to get some ideas about stuff to cover here.

You can see some of the other people we’ve covered here: www.diskant.net/features/index.htm.

Feel free to leave suggestions as comments on this post, or alternatively you can e-mail Marceline or I at the usual addresses… thanks!

THE PINES – It’s Been A While (Matinée)

Posted: February 8th, 2007, by Maxwell Williams

“Why do you stick to me?” questions The Pines’ Pam Berry on It’s Been A While, a collection of songs from the iconic pondcrossing somberpop romancers. Berry is one of the most recognizable voices in American indiepop, with a dulcet croon and a perfect sense of timing and timbre, and we’ve stuck with her since her days in the fetishized Black Tambourine though her work with The Pines, with good reason.

Though songs like “Marie Claire,” “Please Don’t Get Married” and “Familiar” catch Berry and Pines-mate Joe Brooker in quite whimsical moods, the mostly drumless record rarely reaches past dreamy blues or melancholy greens, giving it a folksy pop quality that makes it enjoyable mostly in the rain, or over a post-break-up scotch.

It’s hard to complain when you like every single song on the record, but for reasons unknown, It’s Been A While is not a completist artifact. It’s a collection of compilation tracks, single and EP cuts and a couple unreleased covers (of which the Young Marble Giants cover is an absolute gem), which begs the question, when will the next collection come out so we can fill in the holes. It may have been better to just package it all together.

A must-have record this early in the year when so much crap is coming out, though, is more than welcome.

-Maxwell Williams

Matinée

From the desk of the diskant Overlord – February 6th

Posted: February 6th, 2007, by Marceline Smith

Things are very very very very busy with me at the moment. As if I didn’t have enough things to do with diskant, a record label and a band, I am frantically busy crafting things for my very own stall at the DADA/Miso Funky Market on the 10th. It’s quite a jump from my usual leisurely brooch-making to creating a whole stalls-worth of saleable things. Only four days to go and I think I might just make it. If you’re around, do come and say hello.

Before that, I also have to squeeze in a short jaunt to London which cost us an entire £1.42 in air fares. Yes, I do feel guilty about the environmental effects but it’s February and it’s COLD and I haven’t had a day off since the 1st of January. Plus there are many Japanese foodstuffs and cute things needing to be purchased and sometimes Glasgow just won’t do.

Things aren’t being completely neglected on on diskant though with The Spencer McGarry Season featured in Talentspotter and a whole bunch of reviews over on the review blog. I’ve also wiped the slate clean and will be restarting my interview slackness stats from today. The previous lot have had enough reminders that I can’t be bothered pestering them any more.

It being a new year, my thoughts are being dragged unwillingly towards a redesign. I’ve been having to brush up my CSS skillz lately as it seems to be the way the web is going with almost everything I use for web development (Blogger, WordPress, Shopify etc.) using CSS more and more. So, I may be looking for some reader feedback soon to see what’s most in need of work. But first I will have to find the time…

Current listening: Margaret Berger, Asobi Seksu, Joanna Newsom, Errors, Shigeru Umebayashi, Cat Power.

diskant interview slackness stats: Interviewees: 0, Me: 1

CAPDOWN – Wind Up Toys (CD, Fierce Panda)

Posted: February 5th, 2007, by Simon Minter

From the illustration on the front cover (businessman with briefcase, with clockwork winder emerging from his back – do you see?) to lyrics such as these…

“Music ain’t the only means of venting our frustrations
But we can use it to provoke some emotion
Apathy is taking hold of our jilted generation”
(‘Generation Next’)

“Some say that they are ravers
Some say they’re rock and roll
But I for one like music based on
quality control”
(‘Wind up toys’)

…it’s clear that Capdown have a chip on their shoulder about something, and across its twelve tracks, this album is almost relentless proselytising. They want us to get what they’re telling us, but what that is doesn’t seem to be exactly clear. It seems to be something about there being a lot of fakers in the music industry, and a lot of people somehow not living their lives with the same free spirit as they.

Now that’s all fine, I don’t have a problem with it being reaffirmed that the world, and the music industry, isn’t the most honest, truthful or original place. But a small alarm goes off somewhere when lyrics like…

“…up until now all you seem to put out
Is a badly played version of Blink meets No Doubt”

…when it’s tied to such derivative ska-punk as is scattered across this album. Putting these double standards aside, and accepting the fact that Capdown may have been doing this stuff for long enough to have at least some longevity points, there are some perfectly solid songs here. Angry-sounding guitars and clanging rhythms are tied to the odd sax squonk and that immediately familiar wailing vocal style so favoured by our ska-punk brethren, but it’s not all so one-dimensional.

In its less vocally-reliant passages, the music here can be thunderingly engaging. At times – such as hardcore-styled ‘Thrash Tuesday’ or the riffed-up ‘Keeping Up Appearances’ – Capdown show some different sides to their seemingly singular style. It just seems to not quite ring true that this album, proclaiming vociferously the downfall of modern music/the world, sounds like the work of so many other bands. Are they bringing down the system from within, or naively contributing to the very things they seem to be railing against?

Capdown
Fierce Panda

ERRORS – Salut! France (Rock Action)

Posted: February 4th, 2007, by Marceline Smith

Can Errors do no wrong? Salut! France is quite possibly the most accessible thing they’ve done – condensing all the best bits of all their other songs into one 3 minute pop song, just short enough that you really want to hear it again immediately after. It’s unmistakably Errors with a dark doomy electronic bassline, delicate guitar melodies, tricksy, ever-changing beats and a clever knowingness that puts them up there somewhere between Kraftwerk and the Pet Shop Boys.

Errors must do a lot of walking. Most of their songs have a driving beat at the heart that’s just the right bpm to keep you going and, I find, forego the bus and just walk into town. They also have nicely timed quieter interludes so you can slow down and see what colour the sky is today and how much longer it’s going to take to finish building those flats. There’s a flow and an intricacy to their songs that makes them very easy to fall right into and forget yourself. I’m already quite impressionable but I know if that throbbing bassline kicks back in at an inopportune moment I will quite likely find myself walking into oncoming traffic.

Maeve Binchy on the other side is more downbeat with mournful robotic vocals and layers and layers of shimmering sounds that’s altogether quite lovely. If you’re not familiar with Errors then really, this single is your perfect opportunity, and you really should take it as at this rate their album is going to be, well, the greatest thing ever. Even better, this comes on lovely thick custardy yellow vinyl. I almost want to eat it.

(HAH, I published this and Blogger informed me: “Your blog published with errors.” YES, it did. Well done).

Errors
Rock Action