diskant is an independent music community based in Glasgow, Scotland and we have a whole team of people from all over the UK and beyond writing about independent music and culture, from interviews with new and established bands and labels to record and fanzine reviews and articles on art, festivals and politics. There's over ten years of content here so dig in!

 Subscribe in a reader

Recent Interviews

diskant Staff Sites

More Sites We Like

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.

There’s also a 5 Track Tour Single which was available at the recent shows [and possibly some left on their website] collecting together some tracks from overseas releases. From the no-frills simplistic titles [Drum Machine, D to E] you might think these songs are some rushed together crap. You’d be wrong though. Sure, it’s not groundbreaking Mogwai by any means but there’s still some lovely little tunes on here which remind me of the 7″ that came with My Bloody Valentine’s Isn’t Anything. The first three songs have a certain affinity with each other, carrying on the same themes with quiet drum sounds, slowly shimmering guitars, subdued minor key churchy organ and bits of brass. That’s topped off with two live tracks from the Rothesay gig: You Don’t Know Jesus growing from quietly menacing to just plain old scary menacing and the ever-wondersome Helicon 1.

I’d been hearing good things about Enon and a fantastic support slot to Les Savy Fav had me purchasing the album Believo! [See Thru Broadcasting]. It opens with Rubber Car‘s grinding grooves and dual vocals, both growling and falsetto then switches to a female-sung ballad with the class of a black and white movie then into the lurching electro of Conjugate The Verbs. By this time you’re a bit dumbstruck but when you hear singer John Schmersal used to be in Brainiac it all kind of makes sense. There’s a smiliar unhinged mentality with Enon jumping from style to style without a thought for anyone’s sanity. They even use ‘found sounds’ to great effect with smashing glass and bits of half-hidden speech. But most of all Enon are catchy as hell and their tunes will be definites if I ever get the chance to impose my odd disco dj-ing on anyone.

Belle and Sebastian‘s new single is called I’m Waking Up To Us [Jeepster] and it’s rather odd. The title track is a bitchy ode to an ex-girlfriend sung in an affected style which grates on first listen but soon becomes essential to the feel of the tune. I Love My Car is a hilariously sweet ditty with insanely twee lyrics and that darn Uptown Shufflers om-pom-pom band that supported them on the last tour. You’ll either find it horrifying or endearing, as with the sleeve photos showing the band members holding various cute dogs. However, the third track Marx and Engels is old-style B&S with a tale of a girl in a launderette and it makes me all pathetic like the big sap I am.

Icebreaker International are my discovery of the month after being given the opportunity to interview them at the recent Instal event in Glasgow. Everything I read about them beforehand had me completely intrigued as indeed they also did in person. They very convincingly claim to work for NATOarts and that they wrote their last album on a trade ship between Japan and Canada to promote world trade. Their previous album was written about the NATO nuclear-strike warning system in the Arctic. Luckily this talk follows through into similarly intriguing music. Although made up mostly of electronic laptop jiggery, keyboards and some guitar the recent songs have quite a warm emotive feel. Yokohama has waves of Kraftwerky sounds over a relentlessly catchy bassline and little odd bits of sampled mutterings to catch your attention while Melody For NATO sounds much colder with muffled clangings and gently rolling keyboard melodies. They’re a bit of an enigma really.

I was highly impressed by Instal as a whole though, particularly with Philip Jeck wandering around his den of old record players playing bits of deteriorated crackling records and then chucking them on the floor. I was also fairly astounded by the noise made by Koji Asano and looked into buying one of his albums until I discovered he’s made 25 of them in varying music styles. I got a sample mp3 from his latest album Crevasses but it just doesn’t sound as good in my house.

As it’s Christmas time [and it is, you know], I took the opportunity to buy the Christmas album by Low [Tugboat]. I didn’t buy it when it was re-released last year and, understandably, I haven’t really felt like buying it since. Just Like Christmas is the jolliest, happiest song Low are probably ever likely to record with sleighbells and singalong vocals and it’s the perfect song to get you feeling like maybe Christmas might be fun after all. The rest of the album has covers of Christmas songs like Silent Night and Little Drummer Boy which they make their own in exquisite style. But it’s the songs written by Low that make me swoon the most. Long Way Around The Sea is just heart-achingly beautiful and Taking Down The Tree is so poignantly descriptive. If I had more money I’d buy this for everyone’s Christmas presents.

Lastly, and while I’m still in my first rush of enthusiasm over it, I’d like to recommend a compilation of electronica called [ahem] RND_0.34873349921 on Pause_2. A bargain at £4.99 it features all manner of thrilling stuff from the likes of EU, Metamatics, Wauvenfold, Sybarite, Zan Lyons and The Boy Lucas. I’ve been playing this a hell of a lot in the past couple of days and almost all of it delights me. I couldn’t bear to pick out songs and write about them quite yet but I’m also sure that I’ll be enthusing over something else by the time I next write a column. So go buy it in the meantime.

Marceline Smith

Marceline is the fierce, terrifying force behind diskant.net, laughing with disdain as she fires sharpened blades of sarcasm in all directions. Based in Scotland, her lexicon consists of words such as 'jings', 'aboot' and 'aye': our trained voice analysts are yet to decipher some of the relentless stream of genius uttered on a twenty-four hour basis. Marceline's hobbies include working too much and going out in bad weather.


Comments are closed.