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Archive for June, 2008

diskant rewind: Bargain Bin Culture #6

Posted: June 24th, 2008, by Wil Forbis

(Originally posted August 2002)

Bargain Bin Culture by Wil Forbis

I hadn’t slept for three days and I was jonesin’ bad when I met my source at a dilapidated record store in south Los Angeles. “I need something, man,” I told him, my voice shaking. “Give me anything, as long as it packs some punch!” My source nodded and led me into the back room. Lest you think I was merely pining for some some junk, let me correct your feeble-minded assumption. I kicked the horse long ago and was in total agreement with Keith Richards’ observation that “heroin is for pussies.” I had a new monkey of my back now… music! I craved it with every fibre of my being, but only the good stuff – the crazy stuff. You can take your Britney Spears, your P.O.D., hell, even your …Trail of Dead, and stuff it up your socks. I wanted something that spoke of the lost generation of now, the reckless angst of modern youth. Like an empathetic vampire, I thrived on such musical cacophony. “Check this out,” my source said, removing a long play album from its plastic wrap and placing it on the turntable. The needle hit the groove and suddenly the room was fill with sweet, wonderful music. It was sound unlike any I had ever heard and it filled my soul like a Truck Stop waitress filling a mug with the murky black. “Yesss…” I said, feeling the driving hunger in my soul subsiding. “This is it, man… I’ve never felt this high before… don’t stop… don’t stop… oh, man, whatever you do, DON’T STOOOPPPPPPPP!!!!”

My source, a longtime music addict himself, knew what I was going through. He held me in his arms as we listened to this musical ambrosia over and over into the night. I question whether I should reveal the identity of this album to you. It may well convert you into a music fiend as well, my friend. I may be creating a generation of night travellers that walk the record shops in vain, looking for a greater high. But my journalistic integrity demands that I must reveal it to you. I cannot hide from you what is the greatest musical collection ever. It is… SESAME STREET: THE BEST OF ELMO!

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Summer catch-up: Records

Posted: June 23rd, 2008, by Marceline Smith

Pissed Jeans – Hope For Men
I think pointing out that bands have done this before is missing the point somehow. I don’t think even the Sub Pop bands of yesteryear summed up the total dismay of being in the middle of utter averageness as well as Pissed Jeans do. Luke Younger described them as perfectly encapsulating the myriad of feelings that come with a really depressing wank. It’s nice to see a band make so much noise about such close-to-home, mundane stuff. Some footage of them in Nottingham. [Chris Summerlin]

Nicole Atkins: Neptune City
I seldom find myself browsing aimlessly for records – usually I base my purchases on live shows or recommendations from friends – but t’wasn’t more than a few months ago that I was milling through a major chain record store, wasting time before a movie, when a particular album caught my eye.  Thus began an obsessive love affair with Nicole Atkins’ “Neptune City” album.  It’s an intensely melodic, ornamental almost symphonic collection of 10 pop songs, each drenched in wistfulness and melancholy.  The album clearly tips its hat towards 60s girl groups like the Ronettes, but the backing music sounds more like something you’d find in musical theater – the best comparison I can make is the soundtrack for “Moulin Rouge.”  Most striking about the album is its cohesiveness.  Ignoring all conversation about the rise of the MP3 in the death of the album, Atkins has created a collection of songs that live perfectly together.  This is one of those “the whole is greater than the parts” situations.  Each song is good, but it’s made even better by the fact that it’s coexisting amongst such complimentary siblings.  The result is a sonic experience that allows the listener to transcend the limitations of his/her humanity and embrace the all encompassing magnitude of the omniverse.  (Two or three listens may be required for this effect to take hold.) [Wil Forbis]

Human Bell – S/T
Essentially a duo of Dave Heumann from Bonnie Prince Billy’s touring band / Arboureteum and Nathan Bell who played bass in Lungfish for my favourite 3 albums from them. So, I was never going to ignore this one. But it delivers more than I thought it would do. Again, they won me over live where they weaved a dense sheet of intertwined guitar sound that recalled Lungfish’s economy and throb but with a more primitive and direct blues and Americana influence. Some dark and fuzzy film of them in Nottingham. [Chris Summerlin]

Portishead – Third
The new Portishead album is the first new record I’ve listened to in ages that’s really captivated me. They’ve managed to do once again what they did with their first album – create a whole world of sound that seems to have always been there, but which you’ve never heard before. Spooky and rhythmic and weird and excellent. [Simon Minter]

Washington Phillips – What Are They Doing In Heaven Today?
A reissue of some ancient private press LP called “What Are They Doing In Heaven Today?” by a guy called Washington Phillips, who played some bizarre instrument that has been lost to the mists of time, but was probably a dolcea – an ghostly-sounding cross between a piano and a guitar. Phillips’ voice is pleasantly reedy and his conversational tone in some really reverential songs is totally awesome. “What are they doing in heaven today?” he asks at the start of the title track, “I don’t know, but it’s my job to sing about it.” Totally cool and strangely reassuring despite its haunting, distant sound. Mississippi Records have been cutting  and reissuing a slew of amazing LPs in annoyingly limited editions over the last year or so (their “Lipi City Yodi Council” and “Life is a Problem” compilations were two of the best things I heard last year) and this is just the latest little miracle they’ve unearthed. [Dave Stockwell]

The Enablers – Output Negative Space
Quite oldish now but they’re touring again later this year. Loud and aggressive, yet exceptionally subtle and trimmed of all unnecessary fat it’s a real grower in the old sense of the word that’s undoubtedly helped by seeing them play live where they are an utter force. Video. [Chris Summerlin]

Paulo Angeli – Tessuti
One bloke producing a wild variety of sounds with a large upright Sardinian guitar. I saw him play a few months back and rushed to the cash machine to buy his album. ‘Tessuti’ is a mix of covers including Björk (‘Unravel’ in stunning) and Fred Frith plus some of Angeli’s own compositions. Attached to his guitar are little foot pedals which correspond to each string. While stomping on  these he bows and taps his guitar, setting off a flickering string device; general mayhem but absolutely beautiful. Review | Video 1 | Video 2 [Pascal Ansell]

Errors – It’s Not Something, But It Is Like Whatever / Blood Red Shoes – Box of Secrets
On the one hand you have heart-tugging melancholic electropostrock and stupidfun danceable tricksy electroPOP. On the other, you have sharp-edged, super-catchy singalong indie rock. Together, you have a soundtrack for any Summer day the UK might bring you, and two of the best upcoming bands in the UK. [Marceline Smith]

Harvey Milk – Life… The Best Game In Town
Just getting to grips with this one. “Heavy” doesn’t even do it justice. It’s King Crimson-heavy but utterly non-po-faced. Plus, any band with an album named after Dusty Hill’s finger is good by me. Looking forward to seeing them live…Video. [Chris Summerlin]

Death Cab For Cutie – Narrow Stairs
Their seventh album follows up on their critically acclaimed album ‘Plans.’ To begin Gibbard’s high tenor emotes plaintively ‘I descended a dusty gravel ridge beneath the ‘Bixby Canyon Bridge,” on the superb opening track, which mixes hard ass percussion with the melody. Next up is the hypnotic eight-minute single, ‘I Will Possess Your Heart.’ The spooky instrumental has a ‘Riders on the Storm’ feel. It possesses a relentless quality, which is appropriate for the subject matter of stalker and prey. The gorgeous ‘Cath’ is a standout track on an album of standout tracks. Melancholy lyrics create images in your mind. ‘And as the flashbulbs burst she holds a smile like someone would hold a crying child.’ It’s lump in your throat stuff, which is dominated by some very creative drumming by Jason McGerr. ‘Grapevine Fires,’ is a masterful piece of tranquil understatement. ‘The firemen worked in double shifts with prayers for rain on their lips.’ is whispered over electric piano chords and insistent drumbeats. On ‘Long Division,’ ominous verses lead into sing-along hysteria. ‘His head was a city of paper buildings and the echoes that remained of old friends and lovers. Pessimism goes pop with ‘No Sunlight,’ and on ‘Pity and Fear’ tablas take centre stage. ‘The Ice Is Getting Thinner’ is about a relationship in decline and replaces the live piano with an electric guitar. This album is less produced than ‘Plans’ but it has the usual remarkable mix of literacy and orchestration. After a three-year hiatus Seattle’s finest produce another tour de force. [Mandy Williams]

Free Kitten – Inherit / Paul F Tompkin – Impersonal
I have genuinely tried to find a record I have truly loved this year but alas I have failed.  That said INHERIT by FREE KITTEN became the first record that ever prompted a fellow passenger to request I turn my iPod down.  Personally I didn’t think the volume was too high so perhaps it was the piercing and meandering shrieks of Kim Gordon’s offshot that upset the grumpy fat cow.  I have also found myself listening to PAUL F TOMPKIN’S comedy album IMPERSONAL on repeated plays, super funny.  Oh and BOOTY LUV of course, they rule the world. [JGram]

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PIFCO – A Go Go (Run of the Mill, CD)

Posted: June 22nd, 2008, by Dave Stockwell

Pifco are brilliant. I just wanted to get that out of the way right now.

A fantastically unique two-piece from Leeds, they consist of Ste (clanging guitars and yelping vocals) and Mary (super-motorik drums and keyboard drones) and this is their first release proper after some compilation appearances and a self-released tape that was dead swanky. I can’t even recall how long Pifco have been going any more, but they always seemed to have been ‘around’ and have perked up many a live show I’ve attended. Kudos then, to Run of the Mill, for getting them to finally release something.

It’s a pretty tasty package too, with a full album’s worth of tunes squashed down and packed into barely more than half an hour. Pifco songs rarely get as far a bridge or coda, but then Pifco really don’t follow any musical ‘rules’ – they are a perfect example of a band that exist entirely in their own universe and, by God, it’s a great place to visit sometimes.

The official press release for this album, fantastically named “Pifco A Go Go”, mentions Sonic youth, the Fall and the Coachwhips, but to my mind they’ll always make me think of those early Stereloab records (you know, the really good ones, before they went all cafe pop). It’s probably the Roland keyboard drones that Mary tends to use as a bass guide for Ste’s rambling, jangling guitar lines, but there’s also something of that killer combination of Neu!-style droning motorik with simple pop hooks that works so well on so many songs on this killer of a little album.

Reputedly, Pifco have three more albums’ worth of material good to go. They’ll probably record them in their cellar, as this album was. I, for one, can’t wait.




Summer catch-up: special introductory offer

Posted: June 22nd, 2008, by Greg Kitten

Given strict instructions to write about A RECORD, A BOOK, A FILM OR DVD, A COMPUTER GAME, A FANZINE/MAGAZINE/COMIC, A TV PROGRAMME, A BAND, A PLACE OR EVENT and/or A WEBSITE, I nearly fainted from the wealth of options on the table. I knew I had to have my finger on the pulse, write about things that matter to the kids, and pull it off in a fashion that leaves me looking cool as fuck in the eyes of the reader. A role model, a deep thinker… maybe even an Idol.

So I was going to write a paragraph about A BOOK, and wax all philosophical like about the release of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, the pointless focus on game balance and oversimplistic mechanics overhaul at the expense of backstory & other fluff on player races and a shift of focus away from collaborative storytelling and toward MMO style XP grinding, but fortunately for you guys, something exciting happened in my life, so you’re all spared.

Instead, I’m writing about AN EVENT, that event being my getting arrested for the first time. What can I say? Being arrested sure isn’t what it was in the old days. I always figured it’d involve handcuffs, a night in the cells, blagging a “snout” where and when I can, and an eventual court appearance, which, let’s be honest, would be a near perfect excuse for buying some clothes that look like they should be worn by a grown-up. Fortunately, I was spared this indignity, and can continue dressing like a badly informed 19 year old for the foreseeable future.

This is how it “went down”:
My band played a show last night, our first for like two years. Needless to say, it was a real return to form, what with my late arrival for soundcheck, typical tuning problems and a heaving crowd of around twelve people once all the emo kids had gone home to bed, just in time for the headline act. After the show, the spirit of rock & roll clearly pumping through my veins, I managed to obtain a small amount of the smelliest weed I have come across in years. Thing is, I don’t really smoke anymore. Rarely touch the stuff. But as I say, this night was clearly all about the power of rock, and with no groupies in sight after about 10pm, I was destined to take a ride on the Children’s Plastic Slide with A Badly Formed Snake’s Head of the “slippery slide” of the drugs world: weed.

Heading back to my illegally-parked car with a spring in my step, closely followed by despair on my face, I noticed I had acquired a new decoration on my windscreen; a bright yellow flyer advertising a band called “Fixed Penalty Notice”, with an eye-catching yellow and black logo. This was truly going to be a night to remember.

Driving home with my windows down, the breeze in my hair, and the reassuring pungent odour of cat’s piss filling my nostrils, my attention was drawn to flashing blue lights in my mirror. I pulled over to the side of the road, expecting them to just pass right by, but to my dismay, it was me they were flashing.

I was taken to the rear of my car, and told that my brake lights weren’t working. I expressed genuine surprise – I keep my car in decent order, and am always up to date with tax, MOT and insurance. It was at about this moment that I started feeling my age – policemen are usually such cliches, it must be part of their initiation or something, but this time, I was the damn cliche. I kept looking at the officer writing out my ticket, and all I could think was “god damn, you young”. It also seems he was a young man, most likely a non smoker, with a keen nose. He told me in no uncertain terms that my car did indeed smell like an elderly male lion had decided to mark it as his own, and to be perfectly honest, he was right. On being pulled over, I had cleverly removed the offending article from my pocket and placed it in the super-secret compartment known to the criminal underworld as “that bit in the door where you throw your change and sweet wrappers”.

At that moment, perhaps noticing that I was suffering a little from the cliched thoughts going through my head, the young officer decided to take the weight off my mind and run out a few for himself. As he was searching me (very thorough, though not as intimate as I was hoping), he basically told me that if I co-operated and just told him where the weed was, this would all go very smoothly for me, but if I gave him a hard time and made him actually work for it, my night was going to be over. I held out for a couple of minutes, but as soon as they requested backup in the form of a couple of female officers to search my female passengers and a gosh darn, full fledged dog unit, I decided it was probably best to come clean. I handed it over, and the dog unit and backup duly arrived to search my companions and car.

I was put in the back of the police car, and told I was being given a “Cannabis Street Caution”. Now, this was pretty impressive – I like that they throw in the word “Street” there. It makes it sound cool and edgy. But this is the confusing part – they told me I was under arrest, read my rights etc, but I was merely getting this caution. So basically, I was under arrest for about half an hour while they filled out some forms, which were delivered by yet another officer in the fourth police car of the night, which I now fondly refer to as the “Forms-mobile”. They asked me a bunch of not-very-thorough questions, and transcribed every single word of my answers. This was one of the cooler parts – I noticed they were doing this, so rather than saying “yes” every time, I mixed it up a bit to make it exciting for them. I broke out “Indeed”, “I understand” and “very much so”.

All things considered, they were actually pretty cool about the whole thing, and they completely upheld their end of the deal, which I didn’t expect. They did spell out exactly how it would have gone down had I not cooperated – night in the cells, blood test, followed by court appearance and loss of driving license. Dude even pulled my trousers up for me while he was searching me, though I did have to point out that he was the reason for them nearly falling down. A few cliches later (“Needless to say, we’re not going to give you your drugs back” and “so, this is what ‘no cannabis’ looks like”) and after being forced to sit there and listen to them chat about how they were lucky to be “back on their patch” and not have to “go back into town” (this was the only slightly unsettling part – they were vocally really pleased that they were dealing with me rather than stopping people being knifed and bottled in the town centre) and I was free to go.

Five officers, four cars, two dogs, one bag of weed. Result!

Now something about A TV SHOW – if you don’t watch LOST, you’re insane.

Holiday Schedule

Posted: June 22nd, 2008, by Marceline Smith

I’m off gallivanting yet again, this time to Bangkok to visit my good friend Claire and escape the horrible weather forecast for the UK. However, thanks to the wonders of WordPress, there will be new content nearly every day of my absence, even if no-one else at diskant lifts a finger. It’s a bit like when the school holidays rolled round and the TV schedules were suddenly full of Why Don’t You? and terrible Australian dramas, only even better!

Wil Forbis’s Bargain Bin Culture
diskant will still bring you a fresh dose of Forbis every Tuesday and Friday around 10am, ready for your morning coffee break. Try not to spit it all over your computer screen.

diskant Summer Catch-up 2008
This was going to be an article but it got way out of hand so instead every day at 4pm you’ll get a new blog installment of what the diskant team have been enjoying this Summer, starting with records and continuing with books, films, video games, bands, television & radio, zines, places & events and websites. It all starts properly tomorrow but look out later today for a special introductory offering from the legendary Greg Kitten.

And that’s not all!
I also present the first Talentspotter interview in approximately 15 years; a chat with Stonehaven’s finest export, Copy Haho. You’ll be hearing lots more from them soon, I predict, so why not read up on them now and you can make yourself look cool. They’re quite amusing too. Go go go >>

THE YOUNGS PLAN – Eveningtalk (Self-released EP)

Posted: June 20th, 2008, by Pascal Ansell

Oxfordshire bunch The Youngs Plan are an indie 5-piece and are, yak yak, rather young – this year sees them contributing a new track to the Truck Fest compilation as well as playing the marvellous weekend. Woopee!

Singer Ash Cooke* provides most of the songwriting, and has an excellent upper-range. ‘Our Getaway Car’ is a tricky but not contrived tune, serving as an example for the whole album; a shrewd balance between technicality and artifice. At times borrowing from At The Drive In and Bloc Party (the beginning of ‘Temper, Temper’ features some ace ‘choppy-guitar’ action of the latter band) but sounding original enough to fly from its immediate inspirations.

Thankfully, ‘Eveningtalk’ is bursting with an unhealthy amount of anxious, neurotic lyrics. It begins with the hyped-up energy of a beginning of an epic night out, twinned with comic-book fantasy: “the streets, this heavy concrete, so I’ll tight-rope walk the telephone wires” and the heavily ironic “tonight let’s migrate to where the bass is pumping”. The latter lyric almost achieves its object in sounding like the more cool, less ill-at-ease half of the digital generation – conveying instead is the pathos of not belonging, not fitting in.

‘Eveningtalk’ embodies the diverse kinds of twilight conversation: the hyper, rambling speeches; maniac splurges; deep, profound discussions and plain (danceable) banter. Twenty minutes in and the EP lolls itself to the end of its night-out: “now I’m tired. Everyone can stay here.”

It seems TYP are a bit of a tricky band to be in considering you’d have to literally crap in a bowl or record child-birth to create something original. Crap indie, i.e. jaunty guitars and brooding ‘situational’ lyrics indie has been done to death. But somehow they slip through this almost ubiquitous net: TYP are genuine enough to pull off the sheer complexity of the music and achieve an intelligent but not unfeeling EP.

Pascal Ansell



*The reviewer acknowledges the fact that he shares a close (and some would say amorous) acquaintance with each of the five Youngs Plan chaps. The reviewer also acknowledges the fact that no review is ever fully objective – you could say I have a more intimate knowledge of what’s going on with the music. Whatever, TYP are good enough for me to stoop down to the level of ‘my homies’, and bribes aside, TYP are a good band like any other I’d go out of my way to review.

diskant construction update (slight return)

Posted: June 20th, 2008, by Marceline Smith

HURRAH, I think I have finally finished reformatting every single damn page on diskant into the new format. I haven’t been able to do any page redirects because a) my mac doesn’t like htaccess files and b) it’s so much work, but you should be able to find everything via the Features or Talentspotter indexes, or by using the handy search box top right.

Here’s some cool stuff I spotted in the archives as I toiled:

– Chris Summerlin’s masterworks; diskant gets the blues and the time he interviewed himself about Sonic Youth
– Dave Stockwell’s still-awesome and relevant guide to getting gigs
– Xoë challenging Steve of Cat on Form (now of Blood Red Shoes) to answer for their political stances.
– My favourite interviewees; Icebreaker International and Mogwai
– Excellent interviews with Zoot Horn Rollo, Ian Mackaye, Guy Picciotto, Foetus and Steve Turner

Enjoy! But hurry up, as there’s a whole stack of new content hitting diskant this weekend.

diskant rewind: Bargain Bin Culture #5

Posted: June 20th, 2008, by Wil Forbis

(Originally posted July 2002)

Bargain Bin Culture by Wil Forbis

It seems like lately I’m doing all my review columns according to themes in which I group the albums by genre or some other predefined categorization. Like, last month it was heavy metal. Before that it was fusion. And the first column of the new year was the ten best albums of last year. Despite every indication that the universe is a meaningless, random place, I still attempt to find some way to compartmentalize it. Well, enough I say. I give up. I’m through fighting.

If anything, the events of September 11 have shown us that any attempt at making sense of it all is lost. My mind may scream out with a desire to organize, to systematize, to classify… but it’s a lost cause. Our universe is a random stream of floating nucleons and electrotrons that can just as easily end up in the brain of rabid terrorist as they can a harmless puppy dog. Therefore, I now offer you five record reviews that have nothing to do with each other. They share not same genre nor artists, they are totally random. And meaningless. Just like the real world.

Continue reading »


Posted: June 18th, 2008, by Alex McChesney

In the 90s the marketing department of internet service provider America Online had the bright idea of offering potential customers 28 days of service for free, knowing that providing they were able to log in and pick up their email most people wouldn’t want the hassle of switching to someone else, sticking with the service out of sheer inertia. Unfortunately AOL required its customers to have custom software on their machines in order to connect, and rather than wait for people to get wind of the offer and come to them, they chose instead to press vast quantities of floppy discs and mail them out to every address in the land, whether they owned a computer or not. Soon the AOL install disc became so ubiquitous that, for all the company’s problems, it was for doubling the size of the world’s landfills with useless floppies (and latterly CD-ROMS) that they attracted the most derision.

It’s probably far from the worst act of environmental irresponsibility committed by marketing knobs, but it was so visible since so many people found disc after worthless disc shoved through their letterboxes. There is a point to this geeky little tale, and it’s that the record industry is, to this day, similarly wasteful when it comes to mailing out promotional records for review, and although their address books contain only the names of those individuals who may be able to provide them with some publicity, be that a full-page review in the NME or a couple of lines on a blog somewhere, they put out far more than the odd floppy disc. Those of us who write about music, and especially those who do so for free, do so because we love it, and of course we aren’t going to complain about free records. But for every promo that becomes a well-played fixture of your record collection, there are at least a dozen that end up destined for the charity shop, or, worse, the bin.

The switch to MP3 downloads of review material seems like an obvious one. Unless the record comes in some unusual packaging and the whole object merits consideration, why not just provide the content that’s up for review? But the record industry has been historically skittish about downloads, fearing large-scale piracy of albums before their actual release date, so kudos is due to Fat Cat records for having the nerve to start providing promos in downloadable form, beginning with this, the debut EP from one Tom Brosseau. One can even stream each track first to get a sense of whether it’s appropriate for review before wasting bandwidth on a full download. How nice.

It’s funny, then, that the move to a new form of distribution should be launched with an album of such resolutely traditional music. Tom Brosseau’s influences are very much worn on his sleeve on this five-song EP. Opener “George Washington” in particular is a fairly lacklustre attempt to “do” Bob Dylan, and it’s telling that the nasal drawl he adopts on this track is absent for the rest of the EP, replaced by a far gentler, and less grating, vocal style. So too is the folk-rock instrumentation, most of the record adopting a simple acoustic-guitar-and-voice format before going entirely a capella right at the end.

The impression here is of a songwriter steeped in the American folk tradition. Which is, of course, all fine and well. I’m not anti-folk music. Some of my best friends own banjos for god’s sake, and play them without irony. But the problem with tradition is that it often goes hand-in-hand with a creativity-stifling dogma. Brosseau clearly has the ability to be a charmingly poetic songwriter. Track two on this EP, “Empty Houses”, in particular demonstrates the strength of his abilities in that department. But the talent that is in evidence here should be finding a unique voice for itself, and there is disappointingly little evidence from this EP that it is doing so. Listening to it is a pleasant, but ultimately unsatisfying experience, scattered as it is with hints that Brosseau is capable of much more.

Perhaps music reviewers should adopt a new ratings system based on what becomes of the review copy of the record after the piece as been written. If this was on CD, it would probably would not be immediately sent to Oxfam, but would be filed away and unlikely to be brought out again unless asked to review a second outing by the same artist. As it stands it’s not yet getting deleted from my iTunes library. In the event of a cull brought about by limited disc-space it may be in some danger, but it could yet be saved by the presence of a satisfying follow-up record that does its creator justice.


diskant rewind: Bargain Bin Culture #4

Posted: June 17th, 2008, by Wil Forbis

(Originally posted May 2002)

Overlord note: In case you were wondering, Tuesdays and Fridays are now diskant rewind days where we’re posting up some of the amazing columns we wrote years ago that have since been unavailable online.

Bargain Bin Culture by Wil Forbis

You know, I gotta tell ya, gang… I ‘m hip to the fact that diskant is primarily an indie music e-rag, and I try and be respectful of that, but the man who holds the knife to my throat, our beloved taskmaster, Gen. Simon Minter, has just requested – nay, demanded – that we get our new columns in right away, so I’m going to have to leave the confines of currently popular music and venture outward to ruminate on the kind of music I know best – heavy metal.

(Dig that incredibly long opening sentence, y’all. I’ve been reading a lot of H.P. Lovecraft lately and let me tell you, homeslice could stretch a single sentence over three paragraphs.)

So anyway – yeah, don’t be frightened. Heavy Metal ain’t gonna hurt you. Sure, the subliminal messages may cause you to kill yourself, the satanic references may cause you to sell your soul to the netherworld, and any emulation of the heavy metal “look” may ensure you never get hired to be anything other than a gas station attendant, but otherwise, metal music is perfectly harmless. It’s got a bad reputation, but my feeling is that this poor rating has always been do more to crappy rock critics that any general opinion of the masses.*

I’ve actually got a theory of why heavy metal has always done so badly with the critics. My suspicion is that whenever a rock critic was sitting down to give a good listen to a metal album, a knock would come at the door, and he/she would open it to see a chimpanzee holding a balloon. Attached to the balloon would be a note and when the rock critic read it, they would see, “Hello. My name is Bobo. Would you like me to sodomize you?” Now we all know rock critics love to be sodomized by chimpanzees, so they would jump at this opportunity, and instead of giving the metal album on their plate a good listen, they’d quickly scribble down something like “This sucks. I hate metal” and send it off to Jan Wenner or whoever their overlord was, and then get down to all that chimpanzee-sodomizing. Of course this is just a theory, mind you – I have no proof of such activities. And I certainly don’t want to give the impression that I’m just painting a picture of such degenerate activities as a mean spirited attempt to get even with all the critics who have maligned my favorite form of music.

For example, by no means do I want you to visualize Rolling Stone‘s Jimmy Gutterman sitting alone on a Saturday Night, settling down to review Ozzy Osbourne’s “No Rest For the Wicked,” and then hear a knock and see our previously mentioned chimpanzee friend. Get such an image out of your head if it is currently residing there. (Did I mention that the chimp is wearing a clown suit?) I would wish you to focus on that no more that I would wish you to ruminate on alterna-critic Gina Arnold spending lonely hours in her bedroom, bad mouthing KISS, while intermittently pining away for a stray sodomizing primate, only to have her dreams answered by a doorbell and bobbing balloon. I beg of you, wash such iconography from you mind. Were you to continue such thoughts, you might start envisioning The Stranger‘s Sean Nelson breaking into the New York City Zoo’s Ape section when he should be giving a favorable review to Prong. Okay, that joke is quite finished, isn’t it? My point being, however, that as usual, critics speak for themselves. Regular, decent, salt of the earth fuckers like you and I, love metal. (You do love metal, right?) So I thought I’d take the time to list what I feel are some forgotten metal classics that happen to reside in my vinyl and tape collection. (What the term “Heavy Metal” means has always been a point of contention, so some people may object to my rather loose encapsulation of its definition as seen by my choices below. Generally, I think Heavy Metal can be said to include all music in the sub genres – Hard Rock (Poison, AC/DC) and Metal (Celtic Frost, Slayer.) Many will disagree with me on this and they should know I have a chimpanzee with their name on it.)

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