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Archive for July, 2007


Posted: July 12th, 2007, by Alex McChesney


The last record I bought was the debut by Bracken, which was purchased from Monorail purely on the basis that it was on the Anticon label, and they can seemingly do no wrong. This is no exception and may be my favourite album this year so far. I guess I should probably review it properly some time.

My iPod, however, is largely playing host to old episodes of In Our Time, the Radio 4 programme in which Merlvyn Bragg chats to three academic types about history, science and philosophy. The site only allows you to download the last episode, but a workmate has been archiving them for the past year or so, and I’ve set myself the marathon task of listening to each one, as well as the new ones when they come out.

Imagine a world in which, in order to listen to a radio programme or watch TV, you had to sit in front of a little box at exactly the right time! Apparently people used to do that! Madness.


The lecturer who took the writing course I’ve just finished repeatedly recommended Raymond Carver as a master of the short story, so I’m finally getting round to reading his collection “Cathedral”. His style is very clipped and minimal, which is refreshing if a little dry at times, but they are all expertly constructed. Like Bukowski but without the rage.


Nothing on TV, since Doctor Who finished. Well, ok, and the odd episode of Big Brother, which has caught me more this year than the last few, but not in the same obsessive way as the first few years.

Last night we watched The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada which was fabulous. Tommy Lee Jones is, as they say, “the man.”


Supersonic this weekend. Also, NYC in August for a friend’s wedding then off to Texas to spend time with the inlaws. After that… other stuff I can’t talk about yet.

Working on:

I’ve been working on a desktop Blogging app called “Poster” which will hopefully see a first beta release some time soon, and will be cross-platform and excellent, I assure you. In fact, I’m writing this post on it just now.

Plus occasional tunes, occasional writing, and occasional paralysing panic when I realise that I’ve got a million more important things I should be doing, like getting the flat cleaned up and on the market.


Posted: July 11th, 2007, by Marceline Smith

(Adapted from Alistair at Unpopular)


Japanese Survival phrase lessons from japanesepod101.com on my iPod. I got by okay in Japan last year but I could really do with knowing phrases like ‘sorry, I am a dullard’, ‘where the hell is this amazing shop I found on the internet?’, ‘can I have a metre of every fabric in your store please?’ and ‘what is this and should I really eat it?’ for when I go back in October. I’m finding it all very useful so far, especially for making use of my tedious bus journeys. Music-wise, I am still obsessed with the Kaput! promo mixes.


Finally finished reading the last issue of Beard zine which was highly enjoyable. Lots of festival round-ups (ATP, Instal, Triptych, Green Man etc. etc.) and interviews with the likes of David Berman, Vashti Bunyan, Gay Against You and Dananananaykroyd plus cartoons and stuff. All great! Other than that, mostly books about Japan and crafting, and 17 million blogs.


LOST! I have been having to rest my arm lately but I still hate most TV so I was finding it difficult until the amazing Greg Kitten sent me the last bunch of episodes from Season 3 to catch up on. And now I have started watching it all again from Season 1.


Supersonic this weekend. Who’s all going? Also, JAPAN in October and, um, hmm.

Working on:

My new Asking For Trouble online shop (just launched – go see!), purses and things for the Miso Funky Market next Thursday in Glasgow, diskant redesign (still), Glasgow Craft Mafia launch event.

What are you doing?

OBLIO JOES – Let’s Decompose And Enjoy Assembling (CD, Twisted Kite)

Posted: July 9th, 2007, by Simon Minter

Their website currently states “Thank you and goodbye!”, but I can’t ascertain whether or not Oblio Joes are still an ongoing concern. So, Let’s Decompose And Enjoy Assembling could be their last release. If that’s the case, it’s a shame. This is a fantastic collection of off-centre songs that as much recall the giddy optimism of prime Beach Boys and the glossy vacuity of 10CC as they do the noise-tinged melodies of Pavement and Built To Spill.

Whilst the Pavement comparisons are at times obvious – in the broken, wavering vocals of John Brownell and the rich, subtly complex song structures – it’s not like Pavement have sole rights to creating uplifting, sadness-inflected melodic guitar music. Oblio Joes stamp their own personality on many of the songs here; the heart-rending, self-effacing lyrics on the unnamed opening track and closer ‘Grey Skies’, ‘Dutch Boy’ with its growth from simplistic banjo picking into dreamy, staccato swathes of tune, or the upbeat and jolly ‘Good Neighbour’, with its rolling enthusiasm and melody after melody.

At the heart of their music, Oblio Joes employ a skilful sense of arrangement and contrast. Songs like ‘Capricorn Cowboy’ and ‘Holes’ sound initially simple, but underneath their surface lies a strange collection of sounds and multi-layered instrumentation. It’s this seemingly effortless mastery of songs that can be peeled back to reveal rich seams of musicianship and emotional tugging that sets Oblio Joes apart, as not only a great pop band, but one with real depth and the ability to reward the careful listener. If it is thank you and goodbye from them, this album is a fine way to bow out.

Oblio Joes

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Psychedelica Volume Two (2CD, Northern Star Records)

Posted: July 8th, 2007, by Simon Minter

Throughout the 1980s, a lot of compilations were released that reflected the then-burgeoning interest in recreating the garage punk and psychedelic sounds of the late 1960s. Whilst this second volume in Northern Star’s Psychedelica series isn’t along exactly the same lines as those earlier releases – these new collections compile modern psychedelia, rather than bands directly influenced by the music of many Pebbles, Nuggets or Rubble-type bands – a similar spirit is at work here. There is still no end of bands out there that are creating music that reflects the blissed-out, amped-up, lysergically-altered stylings of the original garage punk artists, albeit reflected through the ouptut of a variety of later bands and movements.

So, this was never going to be a compilation that didn’t have a lot of musical reference points. Through its 35 tracks, the music here broadly falls into a number of styles that suggests some particular music of times gone by. The early-80s Paisley Underground sound of bands like Long Ryders or The Chesterfield Kings is represented here in the clean, melodic, straightforward music of Belles Will Ring and Floorian. Big Star’s brand of power pop, as prefigured by Buffalo Springfield and reimagined by Teenage Fanclub, is respectfully used here by The Quarter After, Goldrush and Riff Random. The unfairly-maligned shoegazing sound of Ride or Slowdive is an influence here on Heroes Of Switzerland, The Daysleepers and Sunsplit; and the heavier, darker, more repetitive style of Loop and Spacemen 3 is displayed here by The Black Angels, Mainline, The People’s Revolutionary Choir, The Voices, Hopewell and The Yours. There are also slices of music on these two CDs that contain varying shades of gothic, Cramps-style garage (The Dolly Rocker Movement), John Lennon-influenced plaintive balladry (The Hiss) and straight-ahead retro garage punk (Dust).

This continues from Psychedelica‘s first volume very well, in its aim to showcase artists working in a particular mindset. Like most compilations, it’s not without its slow points or likely-to-be-skipped tracks; but as a whole it’s an even set of tracks that certainly bears repeated listening. The standout songs are those that not only remind of music gone by, but move in more unique directions: Flowers Of Hell, with their mournful piano, violin and theremin mantra; Perfect Blue, with some subtle electronica; Say Jansfield, with a folk song that warps off into strange, progressive areas.

Independent music goes through trends and phases all of the time, but Psychedelica suggests that there are always bands that continue to trace a line from the late 1960s to the 21st century. Hopefully, more volumes will follow.

Northern Star Records

Captain Beefheart’s Ten Commandments For Guitarists

Posted: July 5th, 2007, by Simon Proffitt

Found on the Fat Man’s site. We can all learn something from this.

1. LISTEN TO THE BIRDS…That’s where all the music comes from. Birds know everything about how it should sound and where that sound should come from. And watch hummingbirds. They fly really fast, but a lot of times they aren’t going anywhere.

2. YOUR GUITAR IS NOT REALLY A GUITAR…Your guitar is a divining rod. Use it to find spirits in the other world and bring them over. A guitar is also a fishing rod. If you’re good, you’ll land a big one.

3. PRACTICE IN FRONT OF A BUSH…Wait until the moon is out, then go outside, eat a multi-grained bread and play your guitar to a bush. If the bush doesn’t shake, eat another piece of bread.

4. WALK WITH THE DEVIL…Old delta blues players referred to amplifiers as the “devil box.” And they were right. You have to be an equal opportunity employer in terms of who you’re bringing over from the other side. Electricity attracts demons and devils. Other instruments attract other spirits. An acoustic guitar attracts Casper. A mandolin attracts Wendy. But an electric guitar attracts Beelzebub.

5. IF YOU’RE GUILTY OF THINKING, YOU’RE OUT…If your brain is part of the process, you’re missing it. You should play like a drowning man, struggling to reach shore. If you can trap that feeling, then you have something that is fur bearing.

6. NEVER POINT YOUR GUITAR AT ANYONE…Your instrument has more power than lightning. Just hit a big chord, then run outside to hear it. But make sure you are not standing in an open field.

7. ALWAYS CARRY YOUR CHURCH KEY…You must carry your key and use it when called upon. That’s your part of the bargain. Like One String Sam. He was a Detroit street musician in the fifties who played a homemade instrument. His song “I Need A Hundred Dollars” is warm pie. Another church key holder is Hubert Sumlin, Howlin’ Wolf’s guitar player. He just stands there like the Statue of Liberty making you want to look up her dress to see how he’s doing it.

8. DON’T WIPE THE SWEAT OFF YOUR INSTRUMENT…You need that stink on there. Then you have to get that stink onto your music.

9. KEEP YOUR GUITAR IN A DARK PLACE…When you’re not playing your guitar, cover it and keep it in a dark place. If you don’t play your guitar for more than a day, be sure to put a saucer of water in with it.

10. YOU GOTTA HAVE A HOOD FOR YOUR ENGINE…Wear a hat when you play and keep that hat on. A hat is a pressure cooker. If you have a roof on your house the hot air can’t escape. Even a lima bean has to have a wet paper towel around it to make it grow.

Event Watch – TrocaBrahma 07

Posted: July 2nd, 2007, by Marceline Smith

TrocaBrahma 07
TrocaBrahma 07 is a festival to celebrate the spirit of Brasil this summer with exclusive collaborations between established and emerging UK and Brasilian music talent including Bonde do Role & Radioclit/Amanda Blank, Gruff Rhys & Tony Da Gatorra, Fourtet & Open Field Church and Optimo & Os Mutantes. In May the UK acts visited Brasil to meet and collaborate with the artists in Brasil and this month they will meet again in the UK for events in London, Liverpool and Glasgow from July 26-29. Neil Mowat, one of the co-programmers told us some more about the event.

We’ve also got three pairs of tickets up for grabs so look out for that at the end of the interview.

What’s the whole idea behind TrocaBrahma?

TrocaBrahma is about offering different opportunities and new perspectives for both the audience and the artists involved. Brahma wanted to present a genuine alternative to the usual summer festival provision that would allow the artist and audience to have a bit of fun and produce something entirley new.

How did the artists choose who to collaborate with?

Gruff Rhys knew all about Tony Da Gatorra’s work and was very keen to work with him, this was also the case with Fourtet and Open Field Church, and Bonde Do Role with Radioclit and Amanda Blank. King Creosote wasn’t previously aware of Romulo Froes’ work but was really enthusiastic about how they could work together after listening to a number of different Brazilian artists. Optimo’s JD Twitch is a long time admirer of Os Mutantes and had been in touch with them previously, so we just facilitated a discussion between them. With Ben Westbeech and Tita Lima, Gilles Peterson advised us that he thought these artists would work well together, we approached them, and they agreed.

The artists have all now met up and worked together in Brazil. How did it go?

Nobody really knew what to expect as it was a new experience for everyone involved. It turned out brilliantly, a really intense week in Sao Paulo. All of the artists got straight into working together and developing new material for shows we had organised at the end of week. So a great mix of work and socialising for 6 or 7 days (which the Brazilians are exceptionally good at). Most of the artists contributed to blogs while we were there and there is video and audio from the week up on the blog site at trocabrahma.net.

What parts of the lineup are you most excited about?

It’s difficult to single out any part of the programme as all of the collaborations have turned out so well. All of the artists are doing full live sets as well as the new material so every night is packed with exceptional shows. However, I can’t wait to see incredibly rare performances by Os Mutantes, and the collaborations between Gruff Rhys and Tony Da Gattora, and King Creosote and Romulo Froes are going to be amazing.

Will this be a regular event?

Yes this is the second year this has happened and everybody has been so positive about it that we’re sure we’ll be doing it over the years ahead.

TrocaBrahma 07 runs through London, Liverpool and Glasgow from July
26-29. We have three pairs of tickets to the TrocaBrahma gig of your choice to give away: just mail info@trocabrahma.com with your choice of gig and choice of city – plus ‘Diskant Comp’ in the subject header – and the first three entrants will receive free tickets. For more info on this year’s event and artists, see www.trocabrahma.com.

From the desk of the diskant Overlord – July 2nd

Posted: July 2nd, 2007, by Marceline Smith

Well, so much for Summer. June was a bit of a washout altogether and we had to escape up to the North East of Scotland to get some beautiful sunshine this weekend. We were in Portsoy for the annual Boat Festival and had a great time, even though boats don’t do that much for me. I purchased Irn Bru flavoured fudge, drank Moray Cup, found lots of bargainous fabric in the charity shops, wandered round Cullen beach and generally had an amazing time.

I have also been staying away from the computer as I have been ordered to rest up by my doctor due to me aggravating my RSI again. So diskant updates are very slow at the moment but hopefully not for too much longer as I am back on the mend. If you’re waiting on a response from me then this is probably why.

Our new events page is coming along nicely although the above means I have a bit of a backlog of events to go through – sorry about that. At the moment we’ve got tickets to give away to two fantastic events happening at the end of July – TrocaBrahma and Indietracks. Get over to the events page for all the details on how to enter. There’s no questions to answer so you’ve got as good a chance as anyone. Also, if you know of any other exciting events coming up, let us know!

It’s also your last chance to help out with The Future of diskant by filling out the DISKANT READER SURVEY. We’ll be picking the winner of the amazing prize shortly so hurry up if you want to be in with a chance. It only takes a few minutes.

Current listening: M.I.A., Bonde do Role, Electrelane, Pet Shop Boys.
diskant interview slackness stats: Interviewees: 0, Me: 1