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Archive for July, 2008

diskant party prizes

Posted: July 31st, 2008, by Marceline Smith

Maybe you thought we were joking about the whole indie tombola idea but no sir. I have been pestering everyone even vaguely connected to diskant and the prizes have been rolling in. You can go see them all here on Flickr.

There’s still a few more to turn up but so far you could literally be winning any of the following:

– CDs by Part Chimp, Envy, Growing and Torche, a deSalvo 7″ and a label sampler from Scotland’s most tremendous record label, Rock Action.
– Singles and lovely embroidered patches from Brighton’s Blood Red Shoes, currently taking the world by storm (and thus dashing all hopes of The Oedipus reforming for our party).
– Albums by Polaris, Bilge Pump and Hirameka Hi-Fi plus lots of samplers from the UK’s best groomed label, Nottingham’s Gringo Records.
– Stacks of joy from indie legend Alistair Fitchett including 7″s on his Unpopular Records label, a full set of I Wish I Was Unpopular CDRs, badges and a special edition package of original drawings.
– Hilarious emo-broidery cross stitch samplers from Glasgow’s craft legends Miso Funky.
– 5 sets of CDs by The Marcia Blaine School For Girls, Like A Stuntman, The Village Orchestra and the Some Paths Lead Back Again compilation on London’s friendly experimental label Highpoint Lowlife.
– CDs from Oxford’s electro noise terrorists, Sunnyvale Noise Sub-element
– A lovely 7″ single from Leeds band Sailors
– Handcrafted jewellery, Scrabble bracelet and lots of badges by Glasgow’s crafty t-boo
– Postcard sets of seaside joys and badges by I Like, Scotland’s most uniquely interesting blog.
– A signed copy of our own JGram‘s book, the tale of the first person in the UK to get sacked for blogging.
– Vinyl box sets and handmade accessories from my own little venture, Asking For Trouble
– No tombola is complete without a bottle of Kia-Ora, some Mr Kipling french fancies and some Babycham so they’ll all be there too, fear not!

Get ye down to the CCA in Glasgow on 08/08/08 for a chance to win! If you’ve never encountered a tombola before (what have you been doing with your life?!), then take it from me; the odds are you will win something.

More info here >>

diskant rewind: Honey Is Funny #4

Posted: July 29th, 2008, by Chris Summerlin

(Originally posted July 2002)

Honey Is Funny by Chris Summerlin

SHIT. New column time comes steaming around again and here I am under intense pressure from Marceline to deliver.

Sorry no column last time so it’s a double ended dong of an effort this time round.

After last months “I hate punk rock” columns all round (where Luke Y revealed he hates all his records which is cool because I hate all his records too) I see no reason to change a winning formula, except fuck it, I’m not in such a bad mood.

I’ll start with a whinge but it’ll get better so read on…

I was in the pub the other day and a good friend I was chatting to said she wasn’t going to see Fugazi because they’d sold out by playing Rock City (since postponed). Knowing a little about the organisation that went into booking the gig I know that’s total bullshit. Jimmy Eat World played there recently (more of which later) and it was nearly 14 quid to get in. Fugazi was £7.50. Add to that the fact it would have been the first gig at Rock City where over 14s can get in and I’m sure you can imagine how hard the set up of this gig was.

There is a far more eloquent response to this kind of criticism on the message board at www.nightwithnoname.com by the way.

The choice of supports for Fugazi was a weird one. The guy putting the show on in Nottingham is a very good friend of mine (not to mention the best independent promoter in the UK) and he mentioned some of the bands that would be playing on the tour. This is not a gripe and neither is it a big deal but it just got me thinking. The Fugazi support slot is something of an institution for smaller bands in that Fugazi occupy the unique position of being the only band big enough to pack out Rock City or Brixton Academy while remaining unaffected by managers, agents, label favours, tour packages etc. This means supporting Fugazi is the one opportunity for smaller bands to play to a packed house while remaining small, or put more crudely – without sucking anyone off to get there.

I think this is Fugazi’s intention and why, in the past, you’ve had bands like Marine Research or Pram playing on the bill or relatively small bands like The Tone or Hernandez opening up. Some of the bands mentioned this time around were odd though. One in particular got me thinking. I’m not going to go into details or even say the band’s name because this isn’t a criticism of them as a band (because they’re damn fine) or even a criticism of the way they handle themselves or Fugazi’s choice of support bands but more to do with some sort of mistaken identity.

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diskant rewind: Honey Is Funny #3

Posted: July 25th, 2008, by Chris Summerlin

(Originally posted May 2002)

Honey Is Funny by Chris Summerlin

So anyway.

My intention was to write loads on why the notion of punk rock is bullshit but Luke Younger told me he was writing a column on why hardcore sucks so the appeal seems to have gone all of a sudden.

To be honest being so fucking miserable all the time has its downsides. My job is perhaps the worst it’s ever been in my life to the point where my bosses told me they thought my commitment was unacceptable because I flat refused to cancel my (pre booked!) holiday to go to ATP because the work load had doubled and I should put the job first.

I considered dropping my pants and placing my cock and balls on a gold tray and asking them to take a long run up and do their best.

I won’t bore you with the details. It’s all relative in the sense that even the very finest parts of my job can be equalled by a really good shit, or cheese on toast in terms of satisfaction in an unpaid environment.

But just to fill you in, I work for the northern branch of a large company. There is/was a southern branch that does/did the same job but used a totally different system to do it. The bosses decided our system was better so began a process of transferring all data from the south to our system in the north. The good bit is it hasn’t worked. But they sacked everyone in the south before realising this so all of a sudden (with just a weekend’s warning) the goalposts of my job have changed dramatically as I am doing the job previously done by our southern colleagues.

I have heard my role in all this referred to as a “challenge”. I prefer the less Record Breakers style terminology of “getting done in the ass”.

Fuck them.

Needless to say I went to ATP (though thoughts of my job tried their best to invade my mind during most of the bands) so in a break from moaning here’s my round up kinda thing.

First weekend was cool though the bands didn’t make much of an impression with notable exceptions such as Blonde Redhead who were in another league. It looked almost choreographed it was so cool. Some people found this unappealing, I just couldn’t take my eyes off them. It was telling that they kept songs from the last record to a minimum and just hit us with the rock. The social side on the first weekend was awesome though. Second weekend was the exact opposite, the place was like a morgue but the bands all blew me away.

Shellac especially.

I guess if you know me this is not much of a surprise but what blew me away was the amount of genuine heart in their performance, especially coming from a band whose reputation is founded on being blunt, to-the-point, economical, machines, emotionless.

I saw a lot of people from bands I knew watching Shellac and it struck me that loads of bands get compared to Shellac in the sense that they are an economical way of a music journo saying a band is angular, angry and sparse (in the same way as a band playing sparse, spooky music can be likened to Slint to save column space). But how many bands are as genuinely rich or deep as the real thing? None of them.

How many bands have the ability to come up with something as concise and affecting as Billiard Player Song lyrically (or as rocking musically) without feeling the need to trumpet the reasons? But Shellac call it the Billiard Player Song. How many bands would be able to write something like Prayer To God without a 2 page press release detailing (or at least hinting at) the object of the song’s venom?

Seeing Albini cradling his guitar in his arms and slow dancing round the stage with it was incredible. People laugh a lot when he introduces songs. I remember once I saw Shellac and he introduced the Billiard Player Song as being about “a sense of immense loss” and people laughed. They should have been listening. That Shellac could care less that they weren’t only makes them more appealing to me. It’s rare that a band so loud and grand can have the good sense to be subtle too.

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23 Nuggets of Nintendo pt 2

Posted: July 25th, 2008, by Marceline Smith

(part 1)


This looked so much fun – an update of the classic SNES games with lots of cool and hilarious new stuff. It really really was fun too, up until the point I realised I still have some inbuilt FAIL at jumping. Now I remember why I spent literally hours on end joyfully watching ex-flatmate and Mario Hero Ally C play Mario 64 and then would go play Zelda myself. Still, this game is so awesome that I persevered for a while, despite the dying 5 times in a row from sheer stupidity, and almost felt some kind of achievement. The addition of GIANT MARIO and teeny tiny Mini Mario is utter amazingness and I really could have learned to love this game. However, whoever decided to only allow you to save after each boss level is my new most hated person and has driven me into giving up entirely. I’m a busy person – I just want to play one level (5 times, badly) and then do something else. What exactly are we losing here by not letting me save after each level? I cannot believe I am hating on Nintendo for making games too hard to complete. The world has gone wrong. I also now wonder how I had the patience to complete all the Gameboy Mario games back in the day – clearly I had a lot more time on my hands. In summary, if you are not a loser you should go buy this.

Instead I turned to this, thinking maybe it will have that Mario awesomeness but be aimed at 4 year olds and thus let you save more often. And indeed, it is a cute but clever gaming experience with lots of Mario related platforming fun. However, it is ruined by a) Yoshi, god I hate him, b) having to carry a baby around at all times who floats off if you bump into anything, c) Yoshi’s big stupid head bumping into everything. I managed about 2 levels before all the cutesy-wutesy clouds and happy flowers graphics started to make my teeth hurt.

Now you’re talking! Who needs jumping when you can learn some useful real life skills like how to skewer an eel, peel a potato and program a microwave, all under the over-enthusiastic and watchful eyes of Mama. This is basically Cooking Mama 1 with new recipes and a million new modes and prizes you will never look at; in some ways an improvement and in other ways just over-complicating things*. On the whole, there seems to be less focus on interminable stirring tasks and taking 3 stages to cut up an onion, and more unexpected bonuses for being super-fast at oiling your frying pan. Just be careful though – one slip-up and Mama will be shooting flames out of her eyes in a rage. She really was not pleased by my pastry wastage making Mama shaped biscuits. Luckily I am great at stabbing eels in the head so we’re getting along okay for now.

To be continued. I am still mostly playing Mario Kart and Pokemon Link tbh.

* I hope you’re impressed I refrained from any over-egging the pudding type phrases here.

Some events that may interest you

Posted: July 24th, 2008, by Marceline Smith

I think I may have to go to this as I have never actually been to a zine fair despite writing and buying zines for the last 15 years, or something. They promise “a celebration of underground, independent and small press publishing in all its forms be it art, comics literature, politics or other weirdness.” plus workshops, films and stalls. It takes place from 12pm this very Saturday (26th July) at the Forest Cafe in Edinburgh. More info on Facebook here.

Leeds’ experimental DIY promoters Forest of Sound (verging on Centaurgyism there) are organising a nice two day festival at the end of August in the woods near Lake Windermere in Cumbria. Over the weekend you can catch the likes of RandomNumber, Wintermute, Lake Me, Hub and The Declining Winter. Admirably, it only costs £16 for a weekend ticket with camping. More info on Myspace here.

Does no-one have a real website any more? Next person to email me a plug for their event with an actual website gets a mention. One day I am going to do an article on bands with their own websites that have been updated more than once in the last six months.

diskant rewind: Honey Is Funny #2

Posted: July 22nd, 2008, by Chris Summerlin

(Originally posted April 2002)

Honey Is Funny by Chris Summerlin

First ups, thank you for all the kind things people said about the first column and for the people kind enough to request I force my own shitty music tastes on them in the way of copying the comp tape.

I help put on gigs in my current hometown of Nottingham. We do a wide range of stuff. I won’t bore you with details. Last night we put on a show in Nottingham for the band Mates Of State. It ruled. I had a lot of fun and I grinned for about 3 hours throughout. It was one of my favourite shows we’ve done. I danced. I called in sick the day after. It raised a few questions in my mind though and got me a subject matter for a few of these columns too…

It was weird to see so many of the punk rock/emo/hardcore crowd at this show. I don’t think it’s surprising because MOS are on Polyvinyl and that label deals mainly with emo stuff for want of a slightly more adequate piece of terminology. To me MOS fit in with a lot of the stuff on Matador more than they do their label contemporaries.

So why do certain folk come to this show but if we were to put on Quasi for example (a band not entirely dissimilar in sound) they would stay at home?

This got me thinking.

The simple reason to the above question is that MOS are punk rock whereas Quasi are not. This was a punk rock show, or in some way connected to punk and hardcore and Quasi would be an indie rock show. Same reason the backpack brigade will go and see some shower of shit emo band playing verse chorus verse college rock with bad lyrics about their girlfriends but are at home watching Hollyoaks on video when Superchunk are playing at Rock City.

(Understand the column name now? I once went to a gig with a friend called Paul Warren and we decided to get to the bottom of what hardcore kids keep in their backpacks. We sneakily undid the bag of the guy in front of us and peered in. It contained nothing but a skate spanner and a bag of Quavers. I’m not sure what this means but I bet it means something).*


I reckon there must be a process of analysis or an equation by which we can determine the punk rock or “backpack” factor of any given band. Imagine if such a mathematical/scientific equation could be developed! I could churn out band after band and with each one add the secret X+Y+Z formula and clean up! Deep Elm Records wouldn’t know what had hit them. I could make a fortune and employ publicists, stylists, graphic designers but never lose my punk rock cred!

Man. I could MAKE A LIVING off this.

Cogs turn…

I bet Isaac Newton thought the same thing you know. He didn’t do too bad.

So I have spent the last month deep in research to develop the Rule Of The Backpack. And, with little fanfare but much excitement I present my findings:

Continue reading »

Tennents Mutual line-up vote

Posted: July 22nd, 2008, by Marceline Smith

Well, the votes have been added up for who WE THE FANS want to play at the new Triptych replacement event(s).  Here are the results (complete with pie charts!!). As expected, it looks exactly like the average festival but without the experimental/local stuff of Triptych. Ho hum. I appreciate they’re trying to do something different here but give some indie kids a voting form and they will just write Muse, Belle and Sebastian, Arcade Fire without even looking.

The next stage should be interesting, and one we are getting no say in, as they take the band list, locations and type of event votes and go and book all the events. As they say here, “We’ll feature as broad a selection of talent from the final Top 40 within this year’s full line-up as possible…budget and artist availability permitting.” (my italics). If one were to be cynical, one would think they will just book whatever they damn well like, considering that at least 50% of these bands will refuse or be unable to play, especially since the kids also voted for “A series of smaller site-specific gigs”.

ATP’s version seemed a lot more transparent, and they were pretty quick to get unavailable bands crossed off so people could move their votes elsewhere. The Tennents version is turning out a lot more behind closed doors, despite being ‘shaped’ by the fans.

I await further news with interest.

Bostin’ Birmingham band

Posted: July 19th, 2008, by Simon Minter

By crikey, I really like the Johnny Foreigner album. I know it’s been out a little while now, but I’ll reiterate what you can already read in many other places – get it, it’s great. Here’s some music:


Drowned in corporate sounds

Posted: July 18th, 2008, by Marceline Smith

This is getting old, our sniping at DiS, I KNOW, but damn they make it too easy.

I was over there to link up their interesting interview with wee Stuart Braithwaite about Young Team’s reissue. No hard feelings – promote what’s good and all that. While I’m there, I get a popup asking me to take a survey so I had a look.

These are the only choices for what music sites you have visited recently.

Even for the NME, that would be a sad list to see. Hell, even for Q Magazine. So, what’s the deal, DiS? Do you really think these are your readers?

It’s almost as funny as the time Interscope hijacked Trail of Dead’s mailing list to try and sell their fans fast food and trainers.

diskant rewind: Honey Is Funny #1

Posted: July 18th, 2008, by Chris Summerlin

(Originally posted February 2002)

Honey Is Funny by Chris Summerlin

– Insignificance by Jim O’Rourke.
– Smog playing live in Leicester.
– Whatever, Mortal by Papa M and going all the way to Scotland to watch him play.
– Melt Banana.
– Screaming, “I’M A ROMAAAAAAAANNNNNNN” to The Lapse’s In Truth Loved LP.
– The Art Of Self Defense by High On Fire.
– The British rock 3 piece Gorilla playing live in Nottingham.

These are a few of my favourite things, or at least what’s bowled me over of late. Take a look.

Smell the connection.

O’Rourke’s hardly a new cat on the block and the album is defiantly retro (although hilariously fresh at the same time), same can be said for Bill Callahan and Smog. And Papa M. Melt Banana push their own sound on and on from an already space age starting point of inception but are as ingrained in the fabric of modern left- of-mainstream rock music as to almost be taken for granted.

Chris Leo has been making fine fine music for the better part of nearly 10 years now.

Finally High On Fire’s album that I love so much was released 2 years ago now and Gorilla, while amazing, are total retro 70s rock filling a void created by Sabbath and AC/DCs constant refusal to play UK pub venues. Bastards.

All this worries me. There are two explanations for it. First is that at the old age of 24 now (though I am and always will be younger than Tim Wheeler which is something that gets me out of bed in the morning – that and incontinence) maybe my current tastes mark the beginning of a decline in my interest in new music that will eventually end in me owning a £10,000 stereo and just one album to play on it.

It will be Brothers In Arms by Dire Straits. On all formats.

Maybe in 15 years I will be buried deep within the demographic that the big labels love so much: people (let’s be honest – men) who are too scared of looking “unhip” to seek out new music and with their thirst to consume still unquenched, they simply repurchase all their old albums on new and improved formats. Sure, I may be cynical about this now but when I’m 35…

Like I said – worrying.

But not as worrying as the possibility that there is no genuinely good music being created by new bands. Perhaps music has stood still?

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