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Archive for March, 2008

Send us your records!

Posted: March 31st, 2008, by Marceline Smith

Finally, after about six months of procrastinating, thinking and watching the diskant review box spiral out of control, we are now accepting new submissions for review. You can see how it all works on the new Review Submissions page. The robot is now on a break and you can interact directly with the diskant reviewers.

Since there were clear notices all over diskant announcing that we were not accepting new review material, I don’t feel any guilt in throwing out everything that is currently sitting in the box, unlistened to and unreviewed. It’s possible I might find some time to dig out anything that looks any good. Don’t hold your breath though.

Anything sent to me, unsolicited, will now be binned immediately. Please follow the new guidelines. If you want to strike diskant off your promo list, I will not blame you in the least. However, it is helping nobody for me to have a crate of dusty ignored CDs in my front room. Thank you.

Muxtape

Posted: March 31st, 2008, by Ollie

The internet in “bloody good idea actually” shocker. Muxtape allows you to upload songs you like to make an online mixtape, which can be shared with friend and foe alike. Check out mine, and post your own. 

Gringo Tour

Posted: March 31st, 2008, by Chris Summerlin

Just got back from a week in a van with Bilge Pump and the other Lords. I’ll spare you a lengthy tour diary and instead point out that if you want to see 8 people slowly crumbling then I’ll stick a few photos up every day over here at my Flickr site:

www.flickr.com/photos/sumlin

If you took any pics of any of the gigs then let me know or email me them or something and I’ll stick them up.

THIS IS BRITISH SUMMERTIME

Posted: March 30th, 2008, by JGRAM

I cannot get a grip, this time last week it was snowing and the snow was settling, it was the most terrifying Easter I had ever seen. Thank Christ BBC took it upon themselves to show High School Musical 2 and pacify me with dreams of a golden future for my impending offspring (impending as in within the next ten years)

And now the clocks the have changed and this is officially British summertime? If its not raining now, it certainly has been and yet I still need to have my window open because it is still too fucking warm for me. Is this the way it is supposed to be?

I’ve finished with the music industry. I left just before Easter just on the verge of being the tour accountant this summer for one of my heroes and also for a Glastonbury/T In The Park/V headliner. I had had enough. Music has sickened me in the past but this was a new low, the escape had to be done. Unwisely to escape having to work out my notice I accused them (the industry) of constructive dismissal, a claim that could carry no weight considering my previous adventures with employers (that bloody book, I have done bugger all to push it this year).

I haven’t been pissed for months, this weather does not want it. The last time I “went for it” I wound up being sick in the pub and ended up at a loved one’s flat hurling bullshit and abuse at her in a comedic fashion before passing out on her sofa only to awaken in the morning with my trousers off having ruined ANY final opportunity to rekindle anything. Its all about the manager of S******lor for her now, how could I compete with that talented bunch of original artists

Which all in all moves me to my current listening tastes. I was excited this year about new records from Nick Cave and The Breeders but neither have really cut it. Nick Cave was great for a few weeks but my enjoyment has been somewhat tarnished by everyone and their arsehole saying what a great return to form it is. Dude, never lost it.

And The Breeders record just is not grunge. I sense it is a real slow burner, after this initial downer, the songs are growing subtly in my mind now and will probably remain there all summer, when it finally arrives. I have been listening to old Breeders bootlegs from the Last Splash era and they’re some of the most exciting live sets I have ever heard. I have even been revisiting their lyrics and fallen in love with simple first lines such as “I like all the different people, I like sticky everywhere” along with the beautiful way “oh c’mon, nobody wants that!” on Iris.

As I yearn my first big weekend the record that has really grabbed me is Aidan John Moffat’s this may be the soundtrack to my summer. I really regret how undervalued Arab Strap were to me after their first two records because their words are pure poetry. It is ridiculous how I found myself still surprised and shocked by “I Can Hear Your Heart”, its a no-brainer. I cannot remember which was the last record to make me laugh out loud but the current one is this. When I played a track around my parents’ yesterday and the stringed intro to track three came in to the response of my Father that’s nice, I just knew I had to skip a track entitled “Cunts”. This is not subtle but its painfully close to the bone. The dissection of Grease and the aftermath is pure grit realism and for some reason right now I need this attitude justified and confirmed to me. It may be the most negative take on existence but it doesn’t mean that it is necessarily wrong or unacceptable. Love will ruin a person, damn near kill them when it falters and goes wrong. I have also seen positive love/relationships stunt and kill the spirit of pure/real men. In other words, these words are essential.

She has cut me dead this year, the lady I fell for last Nov/Dec only to have stomp on my heart and ruin my 2008 but at least this confirms I am not alone and proves that there is a way of finding humour in the most debasing and humiliating of moments. Flirt divert.

As the rain comes humbling down and the words “summer is ready when you are” tickle my mind, I strive further looking for something the least bit summer and this perhaps unwisely finds me digging out my copy of The Punch And Judy Man – that has a happy ending doesn’t it?

Comicreliefland

Posted: March 26th, 2008, by Stan Tontas

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency on TV the other night was so charming that it would be churlish to criticise it. But as a non-servile peasant, when I see the words “Written by Richard Curtis” I get angry so as to avoid diabetic coma.

I freely admit I know nothing about Botswana. Maybe it really is a sunny, idyllic place where problems can be solved with goodwill and 2 typewriters. However that’s not where No.1 is set. This looks more like Comicreliefland to me.

Comicreliefland is where Africa’s problems are related to us by wealthy Londoners. It’s populated by wide-eyed, tragically cute children. Without shoes. A land whose poverty is unrelated to Western exploitation. Not a result of the deliberate policy of “our” governments, but a fact of nature, cruel fate to be borne in stoic silence until a rich man gives you charity, for which you thank him respectfully in over-annunciated English (so charming!). Most insidiously, all the continent’s problems are waiting to be solved by honest businessmen, if only they weren’t hamstrung by corrupt African politicians.

Let’s look at the problems here and how they’re solved. We have an insurance scam perpetrated on a businessman so saintly he offers to pay the money to charity and the same charity as that favoured by the fraudster. Moral: don’t try and improve your lot, your boss is your friend, he has your best interest at heart.

There’s sinister human sacrifice hinted at. Moral: muti and by extension other traditional ways are dark, sinister and evil. Only corrupt politicians and backward peasants practice it.

There’s a powerful and corrupt political figure. But where does he get the money for his Merc from? The muti? Not from any Western agency or corporation (nowhere to be seen). Moral: Corruption is a property of Africans, not a result of Western economics.

The problem’s not that No.1 isn’t a reflection of Africa’s real problems. It’s escapism, that’s not what it’s there for. But it would be nice to see Africa through the eyes of Africans just once. Make a change from Edinburgh doctors or Notting Hill writers

Single Reviews

Posted: March 25th, 2008, by Mandy Williams

Isosceles
Get your hands off (single)

From influences as diverse as Beefheart and Bis come Glaswegian Rockabilly soulsters Isosceles. ‘Get your hands off,’ is released on the Art Goes Pop label ‘I said honey don’t use your sexuality on me, declares their vocalist Jack Valentine in theatrical manner with wobbly analogue synths worthy of Grandaddy enhancing the perfect put down song.

Their triangular catchy keyboard sound is eminently danceable. The b- side ‘I Go,’ adds a funky bass-line and um diddle um diddle chorus and shattering glass to the short sharp pop. These Franz Ferdinand favourites are no strangers to the droll phrase. They embrace Oxfam, ignore KFC and like to kiss the homeless apparently!  Maybe a touch throwaway yet these ‘scientists of sound’ win over your dancing feet with their playful energetic sound.

www.myspace.com/isoscelestheband

People of Santiago
Circles/Dinosaurs (single)

Not from South America but the North East come an epic guitar led indie band with Interpol envy. The people of Santiago have a serious story to tell about ‘untameable masses painfully aware of their stolid surroundings yet consumed with hope.’ They achieve that goal on their single ‘Circles,’ with brash impassioned vocals that declare ‘It changes, every time you open your mouth and say something.’ Jangly guitars provide the background to this somewhat repetitive narrative. You can’t fault the arrangement and the atmospheric sound lies somewhere between The Longcut and The Killers. That said this Steve Lamacq single of the week takes it self a tad too seriously. It perfects the huge sound without the leftfield lyricism that gives the doomy new Yorkers their edge. Better by far is the B-side ‘Dinosaurs’, with a more touching vocal and lighter acoustics that tell of ‘charging the shopping malls like rebellious kids.’ By their choice of single it seems People of Santiago have stadium sized aspirations but if they look less to bombast of the former and concentrate on skewed textures of the latter they may be onto a winner.

http://www.peopleofsantiago.co.uk
http://www.myspace.com/peopleofsantiago

Twin thousands
Like you a lot (single)

Ex Saddlecreek records Nebraskan cellist Gretta Cohn, Brooklyn pianist Ryan Smith and a few friends come together to create a thing of beauty. Twin Thousands single ‘Like You A Lot’ is like a Mazzy Star/St Etienne hybrid. The best in summery pop with rolling guitars, chirpy cellos and ghostly vocals that breeze along and ‘wake you,’ on the way. It ascends into luscious instrumentation like Arcade Fire meets The Cocteau Twins

This song of love vs. lust is a little taster from the unsigned band who love things that makes your stomach want to explode. They say they sound like ‘an elephant killing a rhinoceros.’ Intrigued by the seemingly inapt metaphor I listened further to the songs on their myspace. Better yet was to come in the form of ‘Pirate Song’ and ‘Fireworks,’ lovely gems of orchestration worthy of Sigor Ros or The Polyphonic Spree meets the Good The Bad and The Queen. I would replace the heavyweights in the musical milieu with a moth and a butterfly and watch them tangle with interesting results. Definitely ones to watch out for.

www.twinthousands.com

www.myspace.com/twinthousands

The Bordellos

Posted: March 25th, 2008, by Mandy Williams

The Bordellos (album)
Songs For Swinging Stalkers

It’s St Helens and not the Ukraine that spawned this band, not Gogol Bordello simply The Bordellos. We have here a four piece who produce their own brand of rock and roll, psychedelic, country pop. This re-release of their debut download album ‘Songs For Swinging Stalkers,’ follows last year’s album ‘Meet The Bordellos,’ both released on The Brutarian Label.

‘Velvet Mind,’ sounds like a Smashing Pumpkins composition performed by The Velvet Underground. Muffled vocals dominate the psychedelic sound, which descends eventually into grinding machine noise. George Best and Dennis Wilson inspired ‘Deadwood’. It starts with a murmuring guitar line that whispers like the soundtrack to a spooky thriller. Then it turns into a driving Ramones rocker with the odd vocal cry of ‘stroke the pussy til it begins to purr.’

‘Is Death the End’ layers on the Motown rhythms and shaky tambourines. It’s a roaring soulful number inspired by Johnny cash. Although clinically morose and smashed out of his head the protagonist of ‘Little Bird,’ persuades the feathered friend to hop on his hand on a late Beatles slide guitar piece. ‘The Hurting Kind’ is a touch of early Floyd while The Bunnymen-esque ‘Poet or liar,’ grabs you with its addictive bass riffs. ‘Blank Letter,’ entices you with its blues chord progression. The week after Jeff Buckley lilts along in tribute to the purveyor of ‘a thoughtful rhythm in southern Californian style.’ ‘The autumn of my youth has whispered its final goodbye,’ howls the singer. ‘Setting Sun,’ is an acoustic harmonica ballad sung by a dissonant Northern Neil Young. ‘Melancholia’ is Fried era Cope while ‘Plasticine Man,’ was inspired by the late great Syd Barrett.

The Bordellos wear their diverse influences very much on their sleeves. They owe a big debt to sixties psychedelia but borrow from post punk seventies bands in equal measure. This makes for an intriguingly weird combination of sound. The vocals veer between Mark E. Smith and Pete Shelley. The flattened northern vowels and lispy consonants were quite literally recorded under a pile of coats. With titles the fall like ‘Drunk (is a state I like to call home)’ and ‘Too old for love bites, they come from the HMHB school of lyricism.

A plethora of themes and sounds punctuate this album, The Doors do The Fall maybe? You are never bored as you wait for the next strange offering to assail your ears. They may be no gypsy punks but I bet they could hold their own in a fight.

www.thebordellos.org

GoFaster>>

Posted: March 25th, 2008, by Mandy Williams

GoFaster>> (single)
Flammable Leisurewear

In Liverpool’s City of Culture year a backlash comes care of goFASTER>> Mates of The Wombats and the NKOB of scouse indie, they are the exponents of the self titled bosspop movement. This band seek to upset the applecart by mischievously dragging us through their trailer park. No psych rock devotees, their narratives are packed full of up to date references. Ferrero Roche pyramids, the Jeremy Kyle show and Channel Four TV whores all fuel the goFaster>> fire. They view the world with a satirical eye and deliver post punk with their own brand of keyboard layered resonance and animalistic drumming.

The second single from this up and coming new band released on Alcopop Records is called ‘Flammable Leisurewear.’ This humorous nod to the shell suit wearer is a ‘song about where they all come from.’ Mark E Smith here’s your great-lost Fall track! ‘There are green stripes everywhere’ on a three-minute pop song with a hand clapping start, intricate guitar, bass and drum parts, a pounding chorus, wobbly keyboards and their trademark big sound. ‘Even when the sun couldn’t ever shine through we will keep our tans, our orange glow,’ they chorus, nailing the stereotype perfectly.

GoFaster>> do what it says on the tin. A seemingly loose cannon of untethered sound, actually their amphetamine fuelled catchy melodies are timed perfectly. Melodic building guitar work one minute then electronic madness the next. Think The Buzzcocks mixed with the intricate bits of Don Caballero and Inspirals keyboards creating a wall of Sigur Ros sound that also reminds you of Half Man Half Biscuit on speed.

They aim to make this single to Liverpool what Ghosttown was to Coventry, It’s ‘no win no fee compensation guaranteed,’ from the purveyors of trailer trash trisha pop.

http://www.gofaster.co.uk

The Accumulator, at Leeds International Pool

Posted: March 19th, 2008, by Daniel Robert Chapman

The Accumulator
At the end of the nineteen-sixties Leeds proclaimed itself ‘Motorway City of the Seventies’ and opened an Inner Ring Road to connect the M62 and the M1. Edging the Inner Ring Road in the west end is a one-two of brutalist architecture which has defined the entrance to the city since that time but which will soon be reduced to one. The gritty concrete of the Yorkshire Post building, with its digital clock tower recently refurbished, seems secure; but the inverted black pyramids of the International Pool will be gone in a matter of weeks.

Like the claim to motorway supremacy, the ‘Central Baths’ have their roots in the once great city striving for new prestige in the post-industrial era. A pet project of the ruling Socialist Group of the late-fifties, the pool was to be of an Olympic standard and enjoy an international reputation. There was talk of holding a design competition, before a private sub-committee of the Leeds Corporation apparently arbitrarily appointed John Poulson as architect. They would say later that Poulson was just ‘the man you went to for everything at that time’. His firm, established in Pontefract in 1932 but eventually spreading as far as Malta, Lagos and Beirut, was just completing it’s first major project in Leeds – City House, a monumental office block placed above, and below, and within, Leeds City Station. In keeping with the new style of architectural practice his firm was pioneering, J.G.L. Poulson was appointed as “architect, structural, heating, lighting, ventilation and filtrations consultant in connection with the proposed central baths“. He also acted as quantity surveyor.

John Poulson had become the English sixties prototype of today’s ‘starchitects’, without ever even qualifying as an architect. He could live either in the mansion house of his own design, declared ‘House of the Year’ in 1958, or at his suite at the Dorchester Hotel. He was a millionaire, with growing political influence, welcomed in the higher echelons of British society; he owned a Rolls Royce, a Mercedes, and a Jaguar. His firm employed 750 people and held awards for the designs of several motorway bridges and flyovers, and had built public buildings and works throughout Britain. Hopes in Leeds must have been high for the construction of their new status symbol. Poulson was paid £109,000 for the design of an Olympic pool. The building, which cost £1.25m, was futuristic and flashy and was open before anybody could realise that it wasn’t Olympic.

Continue reading »

For all you guitarists…(or bassists)

Posted: March 19th, 2008, by Chris Summerlin

Guitars are funny things. They break a lot. It can be very upsetting to say the least.  Taking it into your local Enormostore isn’t exactly the best idea and you don’t often find quality guitar repairers in the Yellow Pages.  Luckily for you, if you live within a few hundred miles of Nottingham, luthier and general life-saver Andy Farrell has finally got with the 21st century and has a website so you don’t have to go through the strange Masonic rituals that I had to go to to to find him when Wolves Of Greece were going through a guitar every 2 months.

Andy’s a rare commodity in the guitar world. As anyone who has ever gone into a guitar shop will tell you it’s possibly the only area of consumer goods where the old saying “the customer is always right” doesn’t apply. Most people who work in the world of guitars are either frustrated musicians, former Guitar Institute students, snobs or arseholes. Or a delicate combination of all of the above. Andy, on the other hand is as far removed from that stereotype as possible. And what’s more he once chinned someone in Academy Of Sound which puts him at the top of my estimations anyway.

He’s done countless repair jobs for me as well as for pretty much everyone connected to the Gringo Records label. He’s done work for nearly all of my guitar-playing friends at some point or another even managing to permanently re-assemble the infamous Telescopes guitar where others had failed when it snapped for the 4th time. He should really put on his website that he restored the Telecaster used by Franz Ferdinand from a right old shitty state a few years ago.

So, there you go. Loads of you play guitar, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t sneer or talk down to you and can offer you good impartial advice and make your gear work as well as it can.

So looky here: www.andyfarrell.co.uk