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Archive for May, 2007

THE EMERGENCY – Doo-Lang Doo-Lang (CD, self released)

Posted: May 25th, 2007, by JGRAM

Worryingly the immediate strokes of this album present me with some of the cleanest (plainest) sounding guitar I have heard in a very long time combined with a “riff” that sounds as if it were lifted directly out of a Who songbook. And the attention from this is only taken away by the unintentionally piercing cymbal sound. I am sure the band themselves would be first to admit the production values leave a little (lot) to be desired.

I experience my own emergency as I listen to this record with a judgemental hat as I fail to find one single positive thing to say about it whilst being in full knowledge that a hell of a lot of time and effort has been squeezed into these sixteen songs.

As I stated at the beginning, contained within this record are some of the loudest sounding cymbals ever recorded and it really is an overwhelming aspect of a lot of the album (Albini drums these are not). By the end of the record I don’t know where the sound fits or where it is intended to fit – was it purposely recorded badly? With ideas lifted straight out of the indie pop book of songs, the tracks are delivered with competency but seldom do they rock or hook.

Opening with those “Who-esqe riffs”, the album kicks off in an upbeat manner but it is a positive manner akin to a pub or covers band. Gradually as the album moves on it begins to reach out and attempt to become a bit more expansive but with wayward recording and a vocal delivery that could make a person drown kittens, fairly decent stabs at tunes entering a field around Teenage Fanclub and/or Guided By Voices just become bogged down and disappointing. For some reason I thought they were Scottish and it is at this point that I realise they are not.

I’m really saddened to say that there truly is not much I find I can take from this record, a song called “Hey Whoopy Cat” only achieves the same kind of reaction from me that the Proclaimers attain while “Pictures On The Wall” feels painfully dated as it exists reminiscent of The Wonder Stuff. Ironically the song with the strongest hook is called “Get A Job” – good advice.

Thesaurus moment: unimaginative.

The Emergency


Posted: May 22nd, 2007, by Mandy Williams

Directed by David Fincher, of Fight Club and Se7en fame, Zodiac documents the infamous unsolved crimes of the serial killer who plagued California in the late sixties and early seventies. With these credentials and the heavyweight casting it was obvious this film was going to be an interesting prospect.

Following a spate of brutal murders of couples in the Bay area, the attention-seeking culprit teases police and reporters with cryptic codes about his identity. Four men find the case of the Zodiac taking over their life: Robert Craysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a geeky cartoonist on The San Francisco Chronicle who, although not assigned to the investigation, becomes sidekick to Robert Downey Jr’s beleaguered crime reporter Paul Avery, to whom the killer sends his code. At the same time homicide detectives David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) and William Armstrong (Anthony Edwards) are investigating the apparently unrelated murder of a taxi driver in San Francisco, when it becomes apparent that the murders are connected.

It’s an engaging performance by Gyllenhaal, in the role of the young man becoming steadily more obsessed with his quest for the truth. Ruffalo performs the part of a world-weary cop frustrated by the obstacles that get in his way to perfection. Downey Jr plays to type as the compelling drug-fuelled hack, whose life is threatened then heads on a downward spiral. The years go by, and although they all have their superstitions, the disparate characters get no further in their search for the elusive killer. No-one was ever charged with the murders, but Fincher makes his own conclusions. There is a scene where Craysmith finally manages to look the man he believes to be the killer in the eye.

The cinematography is excellent, whether it be the panoramic shots of San Francisco and the surrounding area or the brief but harrowing scenes of slaughter. It’s also a great period piece, bringing the frustration of the lack of technology scuppering the police investigation to life. It accurately evokes the terror that the community must have felt at the time. At two and three quarter hours, this meticulously-researched crime story could do with a bit of trimming. However, like a jigsaw Fincher painstakingly assembles the pieces of investigative journalism, composing a cryptic puzzle of a film that both grips and entertains.

Yngwie Malmsteen – Super Amazing Guitar God

Posted: May 17th, 2007, by Chris Summerlin

Still the funniest thing on You Tube. Take a moment to listen to the real Yngwie on an airplane explaining how a ‘bitch’ who poured water on him has unwittingly “unleashed the fucking fury”:http://www.roadrun.com/blabbermouth.net/news.aspx?mode=Article&newsitemID=8100

BARR – The Song Is The Single

Posted: May 17th, 2007, by Chris Summerlin

Can’t get enough of this, for all the hipster comparisons I read for Barr it reminds me of The Lapse or Pavement. Liking the video too which gives me chance to make my first contribution to the films blog.


Posted: May 16th, 2007, by Mandy Williams

I picked this CD up at a gig where Mendicant were supporting The Rumble Strips and I had managed to miss them. They say ‘Mendicant are a religious South London experience that will leave you begging for more…’

On listening, I found myself tending to agree. The nearest comparisons you can make to their sound is that it lies somewhere in the land of Beck near Mogwai. An experimental band of brothers and sisters who mix pop, old folk, rock and blues, aspiring to give an acoustic twist to urban music.

The ‘hick-hop’ of Pass That Whiskey is a steel banjo twanging danceable ditty. Next is the story of Lucio Conuela, with his steel toe high heels and silver rapier in his amber-handled cane. “I have seen and I have tasted all the things in store. I have seen and I have tasted and it left me wanting more,” Barnaby Cole and Simone Clark declare, over a plethora of skirmishing instruments played by cellist Jakob Kaye and a collaborative of varied musicians. The bluesy, brassy Butcher boy is more of the same eclectic unorthodox sound mix.

No three chord wonders these, but classicly trained multi-instrumentalists who have been playing music together for years. They employ guitars, banjos, violins, flute, cello, bass, organ and piano in their musical street fight. Mendicants are folks who rely exclusively on charity to survive. Help support their cause!


PETER AND THE WOLF – Storyteller (CD, Skinny Dog Records)

Posted: May 16th, 2007, by Mandy Williams

Liverpool acoustic folk trio Peter and the Wolf are comprised of a double bass player, a girl drummer and a lead singer. Their mini album Storyteller was recorded in singer Marc Sunderland’s bedroom studio.

The first thing you notice from the opening track Showdown are Sunderland’s distinctive, clear, Sting-like vocals. It’s a crisp sound that inflects up and down melodically through the songs. Drummer Donna Dosanjh populates the stop-start rhythms with her perfect percussion and ooh-ooh backing vocals.

Tommy is the tale of a space cadet who drew comets in his physics textbook. The victim of a social arrest, labelled as a broken misfit. Not much going for him you might think but Peter and the Wolf manage to make him sound appealing! In Mercy, the dual singers are accompanied by Hugo Harrison’s convivial double bass picking. Lover Scorned is a charming little torch song with a hand clapping backbeat. On Reason Sutherland declares “I don’t want a war with words or enemies. What gives you the right to speak out and slowly bring me to my knees?” Killing Time has a Feelin’ Groovy melody, backed by harmonica.

When you’re used to listening to murderous breaks and muffled lyrics, this piece of work is a real breath of fresh air. The carefully composed acoustic songs have a lovely retro feel; sort of Simon and Garfunkel meets the best of 10CC.

‘Storyteller’ couldn’t be more perfectly named. You feel you are thumbing through a child’s book, learning about quirky new characters. Musically, the bass and beats are always in perfect rhythm, they lull between fat blues and an intricate folk sound, both of which are quite irresistible. Who knows what we can expect from their full album – poetry akin to Difford and Tilbrook, with the intonation of Rufus Wainwright and the whispery offbeat loveliness of Elliot Smith, maybe? I hope so.

Peter And The Wolf
Skinny Dog Records

VATICAN DC – Make It Ride (CD, Red Flag Recording Co)

Posted: May 16th, 2007, by Mandy Williams

On starting to review this album, the name kept putting me off. I imagined some awful metal band, but when I eventually did ‘put the needle to the record’ I was pleasantly surprised. Don’t get me wrong, it is indeed hard-edged. Their sound is sort of rock mixed with electronic indie. A bit of Hard-Fi here, a touch of The Klaxons there and elements of the Kaisers, but mostly Kasabian, Kasabian and more Kasabian.

Tom Meighan could be on vocals on Wow, while Sparks is a more stripped-down sound. The incredibly catchy single Fountainhead boasts heavy Doctor Who riffs and soprano intoning, like Justin Hawkins at the end of every sentence. Keep on Cutting is like a goth rendition of a Buzzcocks song. She Takes Me Out is pure old style punk. It could be 1977: choppy riffs and simple lyrics. It’s likely to be a favourite with kids who haven’t heard the original material.

In contrast, Bugs starts off like something from Arcade Fire’s ‘Funeral’ before expanding into its own sound. It is by far my favourite track from the album, eschewing the heavy punk sound for layered melodies. “Flushed down the sewers of love, bugs caught in nets with spiders,” their singer spits. It’s anthemic and incredibly addictive.

The weakest song is the title track. The trite refrain “I don’t wanna live a back-seat life, gonna get a horse and make it ride,” is repeated annoyingly through the entire song which ends in distorted feedback. However, it has that stadium sound that will ensure it is a big hit…

Information has a bass-driven intro, then turns all electro with ooh-ooh lilts. By Danger to Myself and The End is the Beginning, Vatican DC are beginning to sound sure of themselves.

Vatican DC are hard to pin down. Their sound changes from song to song like they are trying to hedge their bets. Some tracks are potentially great; if they ditch some of the album fillers and develop their own style a bit more they could be onto a winner. Having toured with Bloc Party, The Rakes and The Kaiser Chiefs though, they shouldn’t have any trouble in getting to that next level. By the time you read this they could already be there.

Vatican DC
Red Flag Recording Co

DROPKICK – Turning Circles (CD, Taylored Records)

Posted: May 16th, 2007, by Mandy Williams

Turning Circles is the 5th album from Scottish four-piece Dropkick. Power-pop meets alt. Country with chiming, Byrds-esque guitars and harmonic vocals. They tell everyday tales of washing up, hairs growing from nipples, getting the bus to Aberdeen or falling asleep with the TV on.

Only For Yourself is a fabulous opener, lovely building melodies reminiscent of Teenage Fanclub. The hooky refrain is “Take a walk to clear your head, from hearing over what you said. Time would make you justify and if only for yourself you question why.” Give It Back has a rockier reverberating guitar resonance. It’s a “crash crash crashing sound.”

For me the stand out track is Avenues, a classic ballad. It possesses a beautiful acoustic guitar intro. “In the summertime people cut their hair and I don’t mind if I go to the chair,” their singer Roy W. Taylor intones in part Dunedin drawl, part mid-Western lilt. It builds while retaining the delicious melody. A thoroughly memorable tale of a city that warrants repeat playing immediately it’s finished.

In Rewind there is a melodic Here Comes the Sun harmony. To Get To You quite simply gets under your skin. The banjo twanging, rockier edged Lobster exhibits their comedic side. You have to love a band that manages to mention scampi and slippers in the same song!

In Wont be There and Wouldn’t Hurt To Wait low-key lilting harmonies are slipped in between the solid power pop riffs. Black book is a standout track from which comes the lyric “Why do you keep the black book with the hidden horrors and the hated of love life and level thinkers. The motherfuckers and the stinkers.” The closer Say Nothing features low key strumming that ascends in layers with a strong defining vocal.

The album lilts along beautifully, mellower tracks feeding their more powerful cousins. You never tire of Dropkick’s arrangements, Laurel Canyon loveliness. They produce an additional twist from somewhere just when you least expect it with their banjos and lap steels. They push the alt. country genre through the mangle, together with folksy quirkiness and amusing indie pop, to produce their own brand of Caledonian Californication.


From the desk of the diskant Overlord – May 16th

Posted: May 16th, 2007, by Marceline Smith

It’s been another busy couple of weeks at diskant. First up we launched the new Films blog where we’ll be writing about new and old films, DVDs, YouTube nonsense, music videos and other film-related things. It’s already looking good so go have a read (and a watch). My other big task has been working out the best way to move all our blogs over to WordPress. Blogger has been a brilliant service but it’s time to move to something a bit more professional that we have more control over. I spent the other weekend categorising all 800 odd posts on the main blog and getting quite nostalgic for days long gone. So much so that I have been trying to coax back some of my favourite diskanteers of old to write for us again. Yay! Hopefully we’ll have some more new things to show you over the next few weeks.

Other than diskant, I have been busy with family visitations, the usual crafting, baking and photography and even a bit of writing for, gasp, other places. This has made me feel a bit guilty about my lack of reviewing and interviewing for diskant this year so I have good intentions on getting things done soon. Of course, just how soon remains to be seen.

Don’t forget, if you’d like to help us figure out The Future of diskant then do fill out the DISKANT READER SURVEY. We really appreciate your feedback. It only takes a few minutes and there’s a great prize on offer!

Current listening:bis, Electrelane, Margaret Berger, Belle and Sebastian, 1990s.
diskant interview slackness stats: Interviewees: 0, Me: 1

Edgar Winter Group – Frankenstein

Posted: May 15th, 2007, by Ollie

This might turn into Ollie Simpson’s Great Moments in Rock and Roll, but oh well. Edgar Winter from The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1973, and he is taking no prisoners. There are so many points where I want to scream “YEEAAH!!” at the screen with clenched fists, but a definite highlight can be found at 6:23 where Edgar attempts to kill his keyboard in the style of a puma.