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Archive for June, 2007

TOUCHERS – The Underwater Fascist (CD)

Posted: June 30th, 2007, by Simon Minter

This is the first I’ve heard of Montana’s Touchers, but on the evidence of this, their sixth long-player, they are in a strange place. The sleeve folds out to reveal a collage including Nazi children, a three-breasted pinup model, several guillotines and many sharks. Perhaps The Underwater Fascist is a concept album, then, a meditation on aquatic fascism; but this isn’t obvious from the music here. Not that that’s a problem – the thirteen tracks need no over-arching theme to do their job. They do just fine as they are. And what they are is a dizzying collection of rockabilly rhythms, throat-shredding screeching vocals, upbeat pop melodies and an unhealthy bucketload of weirdness and threatening desperation.

The most obvious musical reference point is Come On Pilgrim-era Pixies: latino skipping timings, clean guitar lines and damaged-sounding vocals that veer from gruff proclamations to screaming outbursts. I have literally no idea what songs such as ‘Aphrodite Has Gone Mad’, ‘The Mattress Song’, ‘February 22nd 1975’ or ‘Brain’ might be about, but then I’ve never been much of a lyrical analyst. What Touchers are good at is creating an atmosphere of something, an ethereal weirdness that’s as unsettling as it is musical and listenable.

Tracks like ‘Michigan’, with its rolling drumbeats and frenetic strummed guitar, butt up against odd acoustic singalongs like ‘There’s The Rub’, which seems to open with the line “I think you are beautiful, but you are for the worms”. There’s certainly a variety of styles and moods on display here, but I guess that despite what I wrote earlier, an over-arching musical theme becomes apparent as the album comes to a close. Touchers sound like a little like many bands at times – Melvins, Pixies, even Butthole Surfers on the closing musique concrete noise of ‘Fire When Ready’ – but they retain a uniquely strange vibe and a confident grasp of whatever they’re about as a band. I’m still trying to work out what that is, but it’s certainly a positive thing.


Punk Planet RIP

Posted: June 21st, 2007, by Marceline Smith

Punk Planet have sent out their final issue. Sad news. Punk Planet was a big influence on diskant, especially their columns and the range of stuff they covered (their Art & Design issues were always brilliant). They introduced me to two of my favourite ever writers (Jessica Hopper and Al Burian) as well as a lot of amazing bands, labels and people. I wasn’t aware they were having financial and distribution issues but then I haven’t seen an issue in the UK for a couple of years at least.

If nothing else, this is a timely reminder to keep buying your favourite magazines regularly and subscribe if possible. I’m off to renew my Plan B subscription. It may take me months to get round to reading them but I’d be very sad if they weren’t around.

Also, a reminder that I should do that zine roundup asap.

Thanks to everyone who made Punk Planet great.


Posted: June 20th, 2007, by Marceline Smith

Well, everyone has been very quiet lately so what are you up to? I have been up to my eyes in STUFF, both good and bad. So here you are:


Miso Funky Shop
Can you believe it? Me and the Miso Funky gang are opening a real life actual SHOP at The Barras in Glasgow this weekend! If you’re in the area do come along to say hello, view our lovely handmade crafts (including MF’s hilarious Emo-broidery) and sample the free cake. Yes, I said FREE CAKE! More info here.

Giant Robot
Despite the fact that all their galleries are thousands of miles away, I am an avid subscriber of the Giant Robot email newsletter as all their shows look so cool and feature my favourite pop culture artists. When I eventually get to visit the USA, they will be top of my list of places to visit so I can buy everything in their shop. They also put out a magazine packed full of Asian art, design and kawaii. I picked up the latest issue in Edinburgh and it is awesome. Also, ROBOTS!

I am still very much into electronic music that goes URRRRRRRRRRRR. All hail then the marvellous Glasgow club night Kaput! whose recent downloadable promo mix is amazing and the new Optimo comp CD Walkabout which is similarly great. Other than that, I am mostly listening to the new Electrelane (glorious!), new M.I.A. tracks (stupidly, infectiously brilliant) and anything that still sounds okay with only one earphone (see below).


Broken Headphones
Boo hoo! I have a two hour bus journey for work every day plus numerous other buses and walkings so I rely very heavily on my iPod to entertain me (and stop my bus rage from exploding when having to wait for 20mins in the rain). But now my headphones have broken and only one ear works, the other stuttering in and out depending on what angle I hold my head. I have tried to buy some new ones but I cannot find any that aren’t crappy earbuds (always fall out, have dreadful sound leakage) or are massive over-ear things (great but too bulky to shove in your pocket). I have even been too busy to order something online. I am getting a lot of reading done though.

No Shellac
How is the new Shellac? 1000 Hurts was possibly the most eagerly anticipated album in diskant’s history and yet I have read virtually nothing about the new one. I went to purchase it last week but they had SOLD OUT of the vinyl! I picked up the CD but I couldn’t bring myself to actually buy it. Must have the vinyl! If anyone wants to, ahem, provide me with MP3s while I wait for an opportunity to get back down the shops let me know :)

Rainy Days
No really, where did Summer go? Was there a timeblip that pushed us back to February?

MICE PARADE – Mice Parade (CD, Fat Cat)

Posted: June 17th, 2007, by JGRAM

On the same day that I begin reviewing this record I find/buy an old Philistines Jr seven inch in Music And Video Exchange for 5p not realising that there is a relation between them and Mice Parade.

With a name that is derived from an anagram of leader Adam Pierce’s name, Mice Parade are something of indie veterans with this being their fifth album. And this is a tough record to review as it proves a really tranquil experience which unfortunately sees the music slipping into the background of my day.

A much layered affair, this is a relaxed and slow building selection. Playing out like a travel companion in the midst of some deep conversation, the swift time changes and insertions of any instrument at their disposal, The Mice Parade have produced a record that glides successfully combining elements of folk and noise with strongly crafted songs.

Listened to on a Sunday morning in the summer is when this record feels most comfortable, I find myself transfixed with the blessed ease the protagonists appear to have with life.

Featuring guest appearances on vocals by Laetitia Sadier of Stereolab and Kristin Anna Valtysdottir of Mum that perfectly compliment the almost Dando/Grohl-esqe pitch of Pierce, it is not too hard to envisage how this record sounds, not least with the knowledge that Doug Scharin (June Of 44/Rex/Him) can be counted amongst the band’s numbers.

Over the course of the nine tracks it ranges from the delicate dream state of “Double Dolphins On The Nickel” (sadly not some kind of Minutemen tribute) to the out and out drone of “Snow” and the very Tortoise/Sixtoo-esqe mathematics of “Tales Of Las Negras”, where Sadier makes her appearance.

An album of far flung beauty, in a world where so many are attempting folk-tinged electronica and falling flat on their faces, here is a timely reminded how sweet the cherry can taste.

Thesaurus moment: sumptuous.

Mice Parade
Fat Cat Records

BILLY RUFFIAN – My Secret Life (CD, Filthy Little Angels)

Posted: June 17th, 2007, by JGRAM

With a band name that just screams aggression, the record doesn’t take long to mark a target and start a fight. Complete with something of a real bitterness, the character Billy Ruffian comes flying out of the tower blocks of Manchester, rant and raving all over what may or may not be something of a modern concept album about a dick.

Often sounding like Art Brut if they were tasty in a ruck, within a few songs Billy Ruffian has taken pops at the music industry, other bands, girls, anything it would seem before descending into some kind of flexing self loathing pose with a drink problem and obsession with death.

Musically rounded by fizzy guitars that sound like sirens, heavy bass lines and occasional brass section accompaniments, song writing that is true has an end product the often sounds like a mash of The Fall and Roxy Music on a budget fronted by Frank Sidebottom or at least his best friend at school. Later it also occurs to me that this is how the Sultans Of Ping (ask your parents or consult a history book) would sound were they played at the wrong speed slow.

The evident humour is often difficult to decipher as the songs play either hit or miss, reaching a low point with the Tiger Lillies-esqe “Ballad Of Billy Ruffian” which is a sad descend into cheese. Fortunately the sharp boiled lyrical content of the excellent “Music v Money” is the lasting recollection after the album has long passed. The lyrics are clearly crafted as narrations of turmoil and frustration, commonplace with any listener/observer that has ever been involved.

The album ends with “The Last Day”, a satisfactory way to end an album, working like the speech of somebody lying on their death bed (maybe Mr Ruffian). Unlike other things from Manchester, this is educated and very much underdog in its making but full of potential to equally ruffle feathers.

Thesaurus moment: sly.

Billy Ruffian
Filthy Little Angels

GALLOWS – Abandon Ship (seven inch, Warners/Black Envelope)

Posted: June 17th, 2007, by JGRAM

I have truly been fucking shocked at hearing this record on daytime Radio One. I could literally not believe my ears as the old school emo hardcore flew out the FM and I was transported back to the future.

It is nearly ten years now since I was buying seven inches by bands that don’t just sound a little like this band, they sounded EXACTLY like this band (well, this single at least). Actually the reality is that Gallows sound exactly like such DIY heroes from back in the day as Bob Tilton, Tribute, Beacon etc etc. At one point, if you went up to Leeds it seemed like bands sounding like this were growing on trees and Subjugation Records were selling their records through their distro.

So what on earth has happened? I feel it is a truly strange climate these days that sees bands in the (near) mainstream sounding like bands from “my roots” and I truly cannot decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing. And at the end of the day, who is it that can claim to have won the war? Did the majors get wise to the innovation of the DIY indies (ho ho) and cash in on it? Have the underground labels been ultimately proved right in their ideas as to where music (especially rock) was going? Regardless, I know which demographic will be sleeping on a big pile of money tonight as opposed to sleeping on the floor.

I suspect I am the last person at the party to hear this record as I understand the album was originally released on such an indie (in Nottingham?) is now being majorly overhauled by Warners (all for a price). At the end of the day however it is just still really distracting to hear my record collection from ten years ago being played on daytime FM when I thought that was the most cutting edge sounding shit that would forever remain marginalised. Truly, where is the (music) world heading? Kids today!

Thesaurus moment: disconcerting.

Warner Music

DERIDE – Take It Or Leave It (CD, demo)

Posted: June 17th, 2007, by JGRAM

With a pleasantly fuzzed up dirty Soundgarden-esqe guitar sound, this Myspace approaching band sustain my attention for exactly 22 seconds until the Ian Astbury style vocals kick in and spoil the show, reducing proceedings to little more than dated hair band cock rock middle class white man blues grunge rock of the most hormonal kind. That surely can’t be a good thing.

With a name that I keep confusing with Deidre (Barlow?), The Police lifted “S.O.S.” insertion into the first song only serves to extend the painfully commercial aimed intention and unoriginality of this CD. And then track two sounds like the Manic Street Preachers in the most AOR of modes.

Deride are a managed band destined to play pubs and rock clubs for eternity. I could go to the rock bush outside right now and pull two or three of them of the vine in a moment. Actually I am currently shitting a band like this out of my arse right now!

Sent by their management company (they’re managed!), unfortunately I was not supplied with a bio sheet to go with this CD so I have to make my own up with my imagination. And my limited imagination only serves me to believe that in their part time these guys are bricklayers after being the kings of the school in their formative years. Their record collections contains every CD Kerrang has given five Ks to in the past ten years. And with a demo cover that features a strewn bottle of Jack Daniels, packets of fags, unused Durex, some bird’s bikini top (or undies, I just can’t tell the difference these days), a rolled up twenty pound note and a circle of powder that may or may not (probably not) be blow – I don’t think you could mistake these guys for being emo. I wish I had never been sent this.

Thesaurus moment: obsolete.

MepWeb Management


Posted: June 12th, 2007, by Simon Minter

Indietracks is a festival where the worlds of indie-pop and trains collide. Not literally of course; that’d be horrendous. But it’s certainly a unique concept, mixing up a two-day festival of some excellent indie-pop with train-related fun. Organiser Stuart Mackay kindly answered some questions below, and even more kindly has offered a pair of free tickets to one of the lucky people that can answer the question at the end of the interview…

Tell us about Indietracks.
Indietracks predominately showcases indiepop music, which actually encompasses a surprisingly wide range of styles. We had our first night in April, a much smaller event with three bands playing on the station platform (Pocketbooks, Slow Down Tallahassee & Tottie), and in-between bands everyone went for a steam train ride with DJs (Spiral Scratch, Offbeat & Tastyzine) and dancing (and a bar!) on-board. It was an amazing success, hailed by many as the best indiepop event ever. But the formula meant it was also restrictive in numbers, and so our ideas for a second event grew and grew until they became this two day festival.

What should a visitor to the festival expect?
This event’s at a different station from the first, so visitors will need to catch a steam train to get to the festival site where there’ll be an outdoor stage and a smaller stage in a church. The festival arena, out in the Derbyshire countryside, is surrounded by museums – featuring railways, static power engines, buses and even a fork lift museum! There’s a railway shop, model railways and a miniature railway offering rides. There’s things like a signal box you can go in and see how they work, and even a petting farm and a country park. And of course there’s steam and heritage diesel trains running all day, you can go for a ride whenever you like! There may be some acoustic sets on board these trains. Everything is included in the ticket price other than the miniature railway, and family friendly. We’re not offering camping on the railway, but there is a caravan / campsite a few minutes walk away.

What is the steam train/railways connection all about?
Nothing really inspirational behind it, unfortunately. I’ve worked at the railway for a number of years, restoring old trains back to running order. We regularly hire out the train with the disco carriage for birthday parties, weddings etc. and I eventually got round to thinking it might be a place where gigs could be held. I nearly didn’t go ahead with it because of the out of the way location, and there’s no normal train service to Ripley, but I needed have worried, the April event sold out three months in advance! There’s good bus services here from Derby and Nottingham, so it isn’t that hard to get here.

Will there be more Indietracks events in the future
Fingers crossed the festival will become an annual fixture! We’re well advanced with the concept for the Christmas event. They won’t be held all that regular, to help keep them novel.

What parts of the lineup are you most excited about?
Without a doubt Rose McDowell! One of the first bands I ever saw live was Strawberry Switchblade, more than twenty years ago. I’ve listened to them regularly ever since, and so I was absolutely delighted when Rose accepted the invitation to come and play, and to include some Strawberry Switchblade songs in her set. Cats On Fire I’m also excited about seeing again, they deserve to be huge. But there are many others I won’t miss, in a way it’s quite a personal festival as I got to ask along all my favourite bands!

Visit the festival website for more information and a full line-up.

Interested in those free tickets? Just e-mail simonminter@diskant.net, along with your full name and address.

The winner will be drawn and contacted on Sunday 15 July. They’ll get free tickets, but will need to organise transport to the festival and accommodation themselves.

NO AGE – Weirdo Rippers (Fat Cat)

Posted: June 11th, 2007, by Pascal Ansell

Another fantastic release from the Fat Cat label! No Age are an L.A. noise-rock two-piece, steeped in the city’s art/skate/punk scene. Having had their names teased at from all (including Wire Magazine), the double team of Dean Spunt and Randy Randall were picked up by Fat Cat after the label’s ears came to rightly acknowledge their delectable noise. The result is ‘Weirdo Rippers’, a collection of lovely messy tunes previously heard on various underground vinyl releases.

The album could not have a more fitting title: for me it perfectly encapsulates the album’s jumbled assortment of wonderfully messy pieces. You can revel in the breakneck punk sprawl of ‘Boy Void’ or get a spacey vibe in the warped distortion of ‘I Wanna Sleep’. ‘Everybody’s Down’ is a contradictory message – it is remarkably upbeat for its title. It contains a triumphant vocal strain, resounding more pleasingly than if actually hitting the correct notes.

A good duo album defies the issue of a minimal line-up. ‘Weirdo Rippers’ achieves this by full use of peculiar effects and massive head-rattling fuzz. The album’s power is in its apparent free-form abundance of beautiful noise, much like Black Dice’s ‘Beaches and Canyons’ LP. It is cunningly well-structured without being contrived: after x bars of flowing feedback, in comes a terrific rock-out sequence. The album offers a distinctive feel-good scattiness, displayed in the Animal Collective drum snaps and floor tom thumps in ‘Neck Escaper’ or the Joey Ramone hollering on ‘Dead Plane’.

The album’s coda, ‘Escarpment’ takes off where ‘Weirdo Rippers’ began: waves of mushy static ebb and flow whilst the ear is grounded by pleasant chimes. Yet another testament to Fat Cat’s excellent discrimination and the power of the duo.

Pascal Ansell


MUGGABEARS – Night Choreography (CD, self released)

Posted: June 10th, 2007, by JGRAM

This is the most exciting new band I have discovered so far in 2007, an act so refreshing whilst also being so crisp and concise in the wearing of its influences on its sleeves. In a time where the past few years indie music has threatened to give into pant swinging neo-hippy folk types, pointless and aimless noise acts and a full on thrust of grunge nostalgia……basically here is a band THAT FUCKING ROCKS!

Well, “rocks” in an experimental and angular Sonic Youth inspired manner but still it should just what the indie rock doctor is ordering. The music of the Muggabears is immediate through a familiarity of its genre and sheer frenetic dynamism of its playing. It evades me as to just how many times I have heard music like this but bands are still discovering methods with which they are able to make it still sound fresh and inventive.

With obvious nods to Sonic Youth (the band having transplanted from Oklahoma up to New York) it often also resembles Unwound at their most positively dank and dense whilst sporting/rocking a lineup dynamic akin to Blonde Redhead, which at the close of proceedings is a very exciting proposition (in theory).

The choicest track on offer is the elevated “The Goth Tarts”, a towering delivery of menace that builds with the most sinister of intros into a song that literally feels young coupled with a severe sense of guilt and (un)healthy dose of darkness in its mood being fairly nihilistic in its message (“you shouldn’t have children, you shouldn’t read books”).

Night Choreography runs in at seven songs over 24 minutes and there is something of an inconsistency in the offerings as “Automatic Others” appears to fall apart as the singer experiences something of a breakdown (probably of intention) and “Dead Kid Kicks” cheekily lifts heavily from “Purr” by Sonic Youth, something they will be given the benefit of the doubt for for only so long.

When the heavy bass of “Now I’ve Got A Sword” swoops in, the basic eruption and destruction coupled with distorted insane vocals and bloody hooks happily provides proof/evidence that time spent on this band is time well spent. Perhaps not the finished item, there is a mass of exciting indications to be taken from this record that time will hopefully be fulfilled in its promise.

Thesaurus moment: capable.