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diskant rewind: Asking For Trouble #6

Posted: April 7th, 2009, by Marceline Smith

(Originally posted July 2002)

Asking For Trouble by Marceline Smith

Token Trail of Dead record of the month is a tiny wee five inch vinyl single for promotional use only. It’s the size of a normal cd and only has about one inch of grooved vinyl. Awwww. Unsurprising then, that they’ve chosen two of their shortest songs for this; the riotrock Homage and the gentle brooding Relative Ways Segue. This would be a cute little promotional idea if it wasn’t for the fact that most record players won’t play them!! A concept only a major label would think up – promotional records you can’t actually listen to. Way to go Interscope…

So onto the real stuff. Since I haven’t actually bought any records in the last month I’m actually going to listen to some of the stuff I’ve been sent recently. Oh no, real work!

But then it’s not really work when you get given stuff by good bands for free. So let’s start with Fighting Red Adair who went down a storm at the diskant 020202 gig and have been kicking up a racket in the venues of Glasgow rather a lot lately. Aural Exciter [SSB] is their first release and has a massive seven tracks which is their entire set surely. FRA are part quirky, part straight -the song structure is odd enough to keep things interesting and tuneful enough to appeal across the board with a generalised american ROCK style. Muckraker opens up with some searing metallic guitars and you know they’re badmouthing you when they mutter under their breath. They know it too so they drop the disguise and go full on metal screamout crazy. The instrumental Gatekeeper has a slowly swaggering bassline with chipped guitars and an impressive show of don’t give a fuck eyebrow raising confidence. Killing Line of the Just has a nice line in dual hollering and menacing bassline and Mega-Meat is just mental, managing to fit in about four different tunes, some sinister mutterings and some head battering backup. Nice graphic art style sleeve too. Out soon so get queuing.

020202 comrades Sunnyvale Noise Sub-Element are up next with their new demonstration disc entitled Failure To Live Up To Press Release Hype. I first heard this on a Playstation while Stu cowered behind a cushion for the entire duration missing the wonderful computer generated ‘art’ on the television screen. And now I’ve got my own copy that I can listen to in my home but sadly without Playstation art or Stu hiding behind a cushion. But it’s okay as the first track thunders in and it don’t need no extraneous gimmicks. It’s got two minutes of Darth Vader breathing with beats creeping up from three miles away, then throbbing bass burblings and an insanely catchy guitar motif that re-occurs just enough that you want to listen to it again when it’s finished. Air Explosions and Octave Breaks is altogether more of a downbeat affair, the sounds are sparse but warm and punctuated by spurts of sputtering squelchiness and angelic voices. Just as you’re thinking, actually that’s enough of the gothic angels thanks, it stops, counts to ten and then picks up some chunky bass rock instead. Good call. And then in true demo style we get shown Sunnyvale’s other side – the sighingly gentle guitar picked Cow. At the end, as far as I can hear, a spaceship comes down and takes them all away. Not completed unexpected it must be said.

Riviera are a classy London based pop band tipped by John Peel. Disco Riot has all the marks of the Eighties – synths, computerised blooping noises and a drum machine. But as well as that you get proper pop singalong choruses, the sort bis flirted with around the time of Eurodisco. Four tracks of slightly robotic shimmering pop with dance beats and downplayed female vocals and a sort of emotional sadness reminiscent of the Pet Shop Boys. It’s hard for pop bands from the indie side of the tracks to make it big but Riviera deserve to be showing up supposedly pop dullard bands like Hearsay and Blue on an arena tour near you.

It’s not just London kids that can do this kind of stuff though, oh no. Zoidberg feature Martin and Matt who both used to be in Aberdonian schoolboy metallers TAR. But this is no metal band, Matt being seduced back from the Dark Side by synthesizers and drum machines courtesy of Martin who was previously in synthpop bands The Kenadas and then, er, The Kanedas. Discrimination For Fun was apparently recorded on a whim one afternoon and, let’s face it, you can tell. It’s quite a bit short on professionalism but high in enthusiasm and fun. In general you get relentless stumbling stuttering beats, poptunes, bleeping, squealy guitar solos and eighties style vocals. Glad to see Matt hasn’t lost his unique sense of logic either with songs like Shoes On Your Feet Are Better Than Socks On Your Feet. The cover of Who’s Johnny is pretty damn great too. Hurrah!

The Electroluvs are electronic and quite pop but in an entirely different way, their Balti EP [XStatic] opening with downbeat throbbing roboticness. Love In The Kitchen Sink is a perkier but still with a shadow of doom hanging over the chanting and quirksome guitars and chiming keyboards and closer Do Me Some Damage switches from dinky keyboard melody to crunchy indie guitar with echoey Mark E Smith style rrrrranting and back again.

Over to Dundee now for the debut album by Mercury Tilt Switch. They’ve had interest from Fierce Panda y’know and Brundle Kid [Pet Piranha/1970] certainly sounds like the work of a band poised for great things. The best songs are the ramshackle tumbling indie frenzy tunes like Radar Response and There Is No Thing As A Freak Wave which remind me particularly of Cable. The guitars are always sharp, the vocals slightly americanised and shouted. Other songs echo the likes of Idlewild with enjoyable indie rock fun in abundance. Expect to see them sandwiched next to Hundred Reasons on MTV2 sometime soon.

Finally let’s calm down a bit with Bathyscaphe and their Road Movie [Lykill]. If I start talking about soundscapes and post rock you’re going to switch off right? Well don’t! What if I say they’re a trio instrumental envoûtant et intimiste, naviguant das un universe cinématographique? Mmmm, much better. For Bathyscaphe are Parisian you see and musically akin to the warmer side of Tortoise, creating segments of music all with an emotional dreamlike feel. Eyelash is a string-plucked daydream with bass swooping under to build a mesmerisingly clouded state of dreamy half-sleep and Steadycam a night time awakening to sinister noises, your woozy mind confused and unsure. Paluxy River is simply a gothic horror, the echoing noises chilling in their unknown forms. Bathyscaphe have a touch for the darker side of life; the movie this might soundtrack would keep you awake for days.

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.


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