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Archive for March, 2009

diskant rewind: Asking For Trouble #4

Posted: March 31st, 2009, by Marceline Smith

(Originally posted April 2002)

Asking For Trouble by Marceline Smith

Well, it wouldn’t be a column by me if it didn’t begin with some over-enthusiasms about …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead so it’s lucky for me that there’s a copy of the new album Source Tags & Codes welded to my cd player. First album for Interscope and the major label thing seems to be working well for them, giving them some much-needed cash to make the album they’ve always intended to make. The very first song knocks your socks off, It Was There That I Saw You storming in all guns blazing only to slow into the most beautiful reflective interlude with softly thumping drums and strings and then building back up. And it’s only just starting things off. There’s almost too many good songs on here and every song stands up on its own as a highlight of the album. That’s pretty surprising for a band that has three singers and songwriters, each with their own style. Also makes it very difficult to review this album as I feel unable to leave any songs out here but I must or you’ll all die of boredom and I’ll miss the deadline. Trail of Dead have such a way with a melody and a lovelorn vocal; Another Morning Stoner aches with infectious minor key melodies, catching you up in a sun-warmed dream and the closing title track has a soaring simplicity that clears your head and sets you back on your feet. Days Of Being Wild is passion stripped bare, Jason tearing his heart open while the music booms and swirls around him. And Interscope will be very happy with Relative Ways and Baudelaire which showcase TOD’s abilities with the storming pop rock hit. For me, it all comes together perfectly on How Near, How Far. The gleeful vocals and the intricacy and inventiveness of the drumming would normally be plenty enough but it also has the most beautiful layering. When it all drops out in the middle you can just hear the delicate echoes of strings complementing the guitars perfectly and it would make me cry if I was an even bigger wuss than I am. I told you they’d be the biggest band in the world one day. Now do you believe me?

As well as Trail of Dead, crazy garage punk Olympia band The Mukilteo Fairies managed to spawn a number of excellent new bands from its members including Rebecca Basye’s new band The Emerald Down who have an album out on PopSound called Scream The Sound. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was a huge shoegazing fan in the early nineties and this album makes me feel more than a little nostalgic for my teenage years. There’s something about the chiming swirling guitars, lost in layers of effects that’s ever so comforting. The band they remind me of most is Slowdive, especially the echoing male/female vocals on Recondite Astral Traveller. Red Shift is pure dreampop but there’s also a darkness and a sadness through the songs that stops the album being just pretty-pretty. The vocals on Heavier Then Ether, Lighter Than Air are almost chilling in their understated power.

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diskant rewind: Asking For Trouble #3

Posted: March 27th, 2009, by Marceline Smith

(Originally posted February 2002)

Asking For Trouble by Marceline Smith

I’ve decided to pick out my favourite ten records of 2001 otherwise I’d likely be here all month. As always happens, most of them were released in the last three months of the year but what are you going to do about it…

Fugazi ‘The Argument’ and ‘Furniture’ [Dischord]
The greatest band in the world ever. If Fugazi didn’t exist nobody would dare try to invent them. They’re always developing and yet always keeping their unmistakeable Fugazi sound. I’ll just pick out three songs. Opener Cashout is achingly heartfelt and political; emotive vocals over tumbling guitars. Guy’s Full Disclosure finds him gleefully screaming reams of unintelligable noise before slipping easily into complete POP mode complete with ‘ooh oohs’ and Ex-Spectator has enough guitars and hollering to keep me happy for a long time. And then, just to push the point right home, Fugazi casually released a single on the same day with the Repeater-era Furniture which was possibly the most fantastic reminder of how utterly utterly great Fugazi are when they kick out the hardcore guitars. It makes me laugh like crazy, it’s so great. I don’t know why I’m bothering to write about this really. If you don’t already own both these records you’re a fool. A fool who should be on their way to the record store. Now.

Hood ‘Cold House’ [Domino]
My favourite record of the year and my ultimate winter record. When I walk to work in the morning with the ice and the fog and the sun still struggling to rise in the sky, well, nothing soundtracks this better than Hood. There’s so many emotions here but mostly loss and regret and the changing of seasons. The sound is layered at times, bleakly sparse in others with the loveliest bits of piano and brass. The vocals sounded wrong on my first listen but soon became essential, cut up and treated to complement the understated beats. Take the final track You’re Worth The Whole World for example. The music could be one of Mogwai’s finer quieter moments, all drawn-out melodies and piano then on top of that the vocals seem to have been fed through an accordion adding a whole new oddly skewed angle to the song. Complicated electronic music never sounded so simple and natural.

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The Golden Sores – Ashdod To Ekron (CD, Drone Cowboy)

Posted: March 26th, 2009, by Justin Snow

Drone is at the core of my heart. I think life is only lived fully when one embraces the drone. Music with more drone is better than music with less. And going on that premise, The Golden Sores is one of the best bands out there.

Ashdod To Ekron is an hour long densely layered drone epic that travels to all the right places and consistently takes your breath away. The instruments used are meaningless in this situation. It could be guitar, it could be a board of electronics, it could be coming from a hallucinating monk with visions of angels, or perhaps it’s a field recording of a haunted forest. The point is, it could be anything or everything. The sounds created on Ashdod are entirely unique to The Golden Sores.

Drone records are a dime a dozen these days, I know. But The Golden Sores are special, partially because they were able to create this majestic masterpiece in one take. Ashdod To Ekron is a live album (“recorded in the basement”) and the music goes from shimmering tide pools to dank caverns. That, my friends, is a serious accomplishment. The Golden Sores, you get a gold star.

The Golden Sores

diskant rewind: Asking For Trouble #2

Posted: March 24th, 2009, by Marceline Smith

(Originally posted December 2001)

Asking For Trouble by Marceline Smith

Last month I was whining about the wait for new stuff by …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead. Now, however, I have a shiny new copy of the Relative Ways/Homage EP [Interscope, US only] and I’ve stopped whining. Well, about this anyway. Relative Ways is very much on the catchy side of things, maybe even verging on a pop song. Conrad’s not singing about death destroy kill kill kill but instead about everything being alright and ok. and coming together in relative ways. But he’s also screaming himself hoarse with the emotion of it all and it works out like the next stage on from Mistakes and Regrets. You might get lulled into thinking, ‘well, it’s TOD but a properly recorded major label catchy TOD’ but look out! ‘cos Homage is about to smack you in the face in a hardcore punkrockriot. Always my favourite of the handful of new TOD songs heard live, it’s pretty much perfect on record with Jason’s Olympia garage punk past showing up loud and hard. Then to carry it on you get Blood Rites which is Conrad screaming over some Kill Rock Stars era Unwound guitars. If anyone says TOD have sold out then put this on and laugh in their face. Sadly the last track is an instrumental washout but hey, nothing’s perfect.

Mogwai had a couple of new records out recently which have been well worth money. The long-awaited live favourite My Father, My King on one track 12″ [Rock Action] may well be the record Mogwai are remembered for, the classic, essential get-this-one-first release. In 20 minutes it sums up Mogwai and everything that’s great about them, the statement and restatement of one simple motif, the build-up and the utter wonder of the noise. Steve Albini keeps it all clear and dangerously sharp so there’s no chance for Mogwai to meander too far and it all seems perfectly succint, 20 minutes being neither here nor there. No opportunity for John to try and break your hearing with waves of feedback either so definitely gets my vote. hah.

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Tweet Tweet

Posted: March 22nd, 2009, by Marceline Smith

So, you’re no doubt “hip” to the new thing that is Twitter – microblogging for the masses, social phenomenon etc. etc. Of course, us diskanteers have been on it for a while so I have added a handy list of links to our Twitter feeds over there on the left. We don’t have an official diskant Twitter because let’s face it, official Twitter feeds are hella boring, but instead you can keep up with us AS PEOPLE.

If you’re not on Twitter already then you’re missing out on knowing how Alex is getting on as a new resident of Texas, what Greg Kitten thought of the most recent episode of LOST and what technology I’ve broken today. Not to mention my real time updates of the daylight murder right outside my house. Awesome. It’s quality content like that which has made me the 14th most popular Twitterer in Glasgow.

Yeah, so come join us and you’ll get some extra free content throughout the day. I also heartily recommend the entertaining Twitterings of our blog friends Popjustice, Sweeping The Nation, I Like, and The Morning News.

Anyone else good we should be following? Leave a comment!

diskant rewind: Asking For Trouble #1

Posted: March 20th, 2009, by Marceline Smith

(Originally posted October 2001)

Asking For Trouble by Marceline Smith

At the moment I’m feverishly awaiting the new stuff by …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead. Record label redtape looks like holding up the next album until January but let’s hope that’s not the case as it’s more than two years since TOD released a proper record in the UK. Either way there’s a single out next month which will feature my favourite of the new songs, Homage. They’ve been playing this one at their recent live dates and even let slip an MP3 demo copy to the fans. And it’s a stormer of a song – Jason’s trademark wailing sounding more urgent than ever as the guitars reach a frenetic pace trying to keep up to speed with the pounding drums. Which makes the little dips into downbeat thoughtfulness seem all the more unexpected.

If that’s not enough Jason Reece action to keep me happy [and, quite frankly, it isn’t] then there’s his gothic electronica side project A Roman Scandal. The single Lost in a Scandal [Paintcan Chandelierier] is enjoyable enough with it’s quietly muttered vocals and stuttering drums but for the real fun download the three MP3s from their website. Recorded live, they bubble and groove and you can just picture Jason drunkenly stumbling about like the crazy fool he is, ranting and whooping while the music whirls around him.

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Content Alert!

Posted: March 18th, 2009, by Marceline Smith

Yes, yes, blah, blah, neglect, sorry etc. but there is new stuff coming right up.

First off, some interviews from the archives of Oxford’s excellent charity event Audioscope. These interviews have previously only been available in the event programmes but now everyone can read them. The first one up right now is with the very friendly FOUR TET, soon to be followed by Scout Niblett, Clinic, Piano Magic and Michael Rother. Bet you can’t wait!

Secondly, it seems apt that you all voted for my columns next as it’s my birthday next week. However, upon re-reading them, it seems more like a cruel punishment. Nevertheless, I have swallowed my pride and you can read all my ramblings in full over the next couple of months, starting Friday. In my defence, I wrote them eight years ago. They are also amusingly filled with predictions for the future, none of which have come to pass so far. Go me.

Newer readers may be impressed to discover my loyalty to certain names and phrases – diskant was been my username for everything from my first steps on to the internet back in 1995 and Asking For Trouble was my column name back in 2001 and went on to be the name of my record label and now artistic endeavours. No wonder Google loves me.

Okay, carry on.

A Storm Of Light / Nadja – Primitive North (LP, Robotic Empire)

Posted: March 17th, 2009, by Justin Snow

Here’s another split for all you, um, split lovers. Only this time it’s a bit more metal. Robotic Empire put out this seriously delicious double vinyl split between the unequaled Nadja and the mighty (and new to me) A Storm Of Light.

A Storm Of Light absolutely destroys their side of the record with the two songs “Brother” and “Sister” each about 10 minutes long. These are a couple of intensely epic metal tracks, sharing elements from many other of my most beloved metal acts like Big Business, Boris, Pelican, Torche, and Envy. Lead singer Josh Graham (of Neurosis, Battle Of Mice, ex-Red Sparowes) has a perfect voice for metal. It’s deep and smooth, resonates in between your ears, and it’s not too over the top. It works so well with the form of grand post metal whatever that A Storm Of Light is quickly perfecting.

For those unaware, I am something of a Nadja fanboy. I geeked out on my blog about an upcoming show that Nadja was playing in the Boston area and Aidan Baker (man behind Nadja) saw it, and consequently knew who I was at the show (aka I was famous for two seconds). I talked to him and Leah (girl behind Nadja) a bit and got Aidan to sign the book he wrote. I normally don’t do the whole signature thing (I just generally think it’s just kinda lame) but I really couldn’t help myself this time. Anyway, I thought you deserved a little backstory before I started showering this new Nadja track with sincere (but perhaps biased) praise.

“I Make From Your Eyes The Sun” is why I love Nadja. It’s just so fucking perfect. It starts out kinda lightweight and dreamy, a little hi-hat keeping time with the guitars and piano. You know how it goes, the calm before the storm. The only warning you get is a trio of drum beats, then it kicks into full blown beautiful gauzy metal. The 20+ minutes that this song lasts isn’t nearly enough for me. I could listen to Nadja’s fuzzy wall of metal forever and never think twice about what else I was missing. It moves so slowly that you couldn’t (or maybe shouldn’t) bang your head but it’s far from the funeral doom sludge that crawls at a glacier’s pace. This is the kind of metal that makes you bang your fist into your thigh with your eyes closed tight, trying not to cry because you’re fucking metal dammit. But you can’t help it. No one can. Nadja is just too gorgeous.

One of the best parts of this split is that the second LP comes with remixes that one band did for the other’s songs. And they’re just as good if not better than the originals. Coupled with amazing packaging (choice of “Glacier” or “Blood Moon” colored vinyl, yes please), this thing is a truly spectacular record. If there was ever a split to buy, this would be it folks.

A Storm Of Light
Robotic Empire

Solar powered theremins! in 3-D!

Posted: March 17th, 2009, by Stan Tontas

Solar-powered theremins! In 3D!

The Electron Club, based at the CCA, is Geek Heaven on Sauchiehall Street. The linked video not only features theremins powered by the sun, but it’s filmed in old-school red & blue glasses 3-D.

Maserati / Zombi Split (LP, Temporary Residence)

Posted: March 10th, 2009, by Justin Snow

For a person that’s into the kind of music that I’m into, I’m slightly ashamed to say I’ve never really listened to either Maserati or Zombi. I knew slightly more about Zombi than I did Maserati but that still wasn’t much. So when I saw they were putting out a limited vinyl only release on Temporary Residence (already sold out at the label, sorry), I figured there wasn’t a better way to get to know either of these much lauded bands.

Maserati throws down 4 tracks (or 2, however you wanna look at it) of superb post-rock. I only wish I had heard this 5 years ago, back when I was devouring as much post-rock as I could. Not that this isn’t good, because it is, but I feel even special post-rock, like Maserati’s slightly spacey & Krauty take on it, just can’t do for me what it used to.

Zombi attempts to tackle their side all in one take with a song called “Infinity.” And while it does only last about 13 minutes, it’s a wonderful 13 minutes of analog synth that seems to last for, well, at least a long time. But it’s not just pure synth drone, like I expected. At about 4 minutes in, this crazy drummer emerges and just goes to town. At first, he takes control of the song, dominating the underlying synth, but eventually he lets up a bit and the two instruments team up to finish off the song in the most epically moody and creepy danceable way possible. This one’s a keeper.

Temporary Residence