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!

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TIMES NEW VIKING – Born Against Revisited (LP, Matador Records)

Posted: September 21st, 2009, by JGRAM

The sound of Times New Viking is truly fucked up.  They are out of tune and they don’t even sound as if they are playing actual instruments, more using appropriations of what instruments should sound like.  All in all this is a record that sounds as if it were made out of cupboard.

As a result of this the reality that there is a drive behind proceedings says a lot about the determination of the band and the apparent strength of their songs in the sole/soul, bloody minded desire to see things through until a hook is found.  I guess this has been what lo-fi ingenuity has always been about.

With drums that sound like they are boxes falling down stairs, the hardest hook to arrive first is the chorus refrain of the title track “Born Against Revisited” as the song descends into true dementia, a refreshing voice from the back raises her hand and lends the song a kiss.

In sounding so bad and awful there is true invention in the process.  The fact that the sound has been rendered so sharp and nasty but yet remains (just about) listenable indicates that there is no off switch on the genius button here.

Ultimately it feels as if this muck is some kind of response to the horrible slickness that no comes with the digital age, the bland anonymous cold feel of listening to music through a computer.  As we now reach the Skynet era of music and how Kraftwerk appeared to once predict songs being manufactured by robots this is in many ways as pure a statement of/in music as you can get as they purposely apply a recording technique akin to the playing technique of The Shaggs.  With its transgression this is a true blessing.

To be found are genuinely rocking joints that come in the form of the optimistic sounding “Move To California” and the Germs echoing opening “I Smell Bubblegum”.  It’s definitely not all great but certainly is fun.

This is the sound of what Guided By Voices would be like if they were hoodlum kids packing more than just guitars and sticking scissors into open electric sockets.  Any band that has a 36 second song called “Take The Piss” cannot be bad or wrong.

These songs were born to be heard on vinyl.

Thesaurus moment: scuff.

Times New Viking

Matador Records

News from the diskant staff

Posted: August 10th, 2009, by Marceline Smith

Some stuff we’re up to:

– Tickets are now on sale for Simon and Stu’s annual charity event Audioscope. It takes place on Saturday 17 October at the Jericho in Oxford and has a pretty cool line-up so far: MAPS, THE LONGCUT, REMEMBER REMEMBER, BRONNT INDUSTRIES KAPITAL, TALONS, UTE, CATS & CATS & CATS and BITCHES. Get your tickets here.

– Simon also took part in Antony Gormley’s One & Other a few days ago, becoming a “living monument” on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. You can even watch the whole thing here should you have a spare hour.

– Chris Summerlin has all but ditched us for his own blog but he’s also selling off a load of his lovely gig posters – buy 3 and you’ll get a fourth poster for free. Find out more here.

– If you haven’t picked up a copy of JGRAM WORLD, Jason’s entertaining book of the blog that got him sacked then you can now buy it from my shop right here for a mere £6.

– You can also find me and my ever-growing stock of kawaii products at Duckstock next weekend (Sunday 16th August). It’s an all-dayer at The Flying Duck club in Glasgow (sister to Mono and Stereo) and promises about 20 different acts plus DJs and other fun. It starts at 1pm and it’s FREE! See you there!

Did I miss anything? Post it in the comments!

THE DOOMED BIRD OF PROVIDENCE – The Doomed Bird Of Providence (CD, Laily Recordings)

Posted: July 1st, 2009, by JGRAM

Despatched dark and dusty, a small part of the Australian outback has found itself transplanted and captured in London for this release.

Almost like a post-rock (spit!) take on Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds soliciting The Pogues with a little pinch of the Tiger Lillies this is a true soup of string drenched compositions being pierced by jarring Australian vocals sung in a near shanty style about topics such as murder and honour amongst thieves.  The orchestration of the songs is such that you find yourself removed from your surroundings and driven to hell.  If you have ever been to Australia and felt miniscule when faced by the darkness of nothing but hot stinking hateful territory then this is where this music is at.  Flight Of The Conchords this most definitely is not (bloody Kiwis).

Of the four songs on offer the epic “Dorothy Handland” with its extended instrument section at dusk would not feel out of place sitting on a Dirty Three record.

As the release draws to a brooding conclusion it is with a sadness echoed by none and a future that feels uncertain depending on the conduct going forward of the band that judging by the lyrics may or may not scupper their fortunes.  Personally I await their return/response with real anticipation.

It’s not only the bird that feels doomed at the outset of this record.

You call that a knife?

Thesaurus moment: guilty. 

The Doomed Bird Of Providence

Laily Recordings

THE BROWN BOOK – Thirty Nothing (CD, self-released)

Posted: May 20th, 2009, by Dave Stockwell

The Brown Book are a noise rock band from near Boston, USA. They’ve been going for nigh-on 5 years and this is their latest release, currently being sold in handmade self-released versions. If anyone wants to put out an “official” release for them, that would be just fine.

An experimental rock-based band, The Brown Book take the standard template of 2 guitars+bass+drums, get a shitload of heaviness on board and then set their sights for the stars. It’s so refreshing to hear a band revelling in huge lumpen chunks of volume who actually have more than one change of gear in their setup -opener “Deer Heads” starts with nothing more than the beauteous feeding back of guitars merging melodies…  until the drums and bass come piling onto the mix with a wickedly fast lurch that finally turns into some kind of a twisted groove. It’s a complex rhythm and structure that also is interesting and pleasurable to listen to – a rare combination when it comes to experimental music.

More combinations and experiments with tempo and rhythm continue with “Family Outing”, which starts out with spare drums and a slow looming chord progression, both of which slowly fill out further and further until around the halfway mark, they shift matters into top gear and  everything starts going absolutely batshit. There’s a pause for  a few seconds, more madness, then another side-shift to a different, bobbing rhythm that would completely do your neck in if you tried to tried to headbang along. I’d love to see audiences get totally blown away but confused by this shit.

It’s not just the ideas that are impressive, it’s the sheer intensity of their application that mark out The Brown Book for me – they know exactly when to play it cool, when to totally go for it, and when to grind to sudden halts to keep you on your toes. They play a really nice mix of so-called “math rock” grooves,  drones, heavyheavy riffs and total shredding insanity. There’s even some lighter textures on the deceptively melodious mid-album track “Jumping The Shark” (winner of the prestigious Best Song Title I’ve Heard In A While award) that offer welcome respite from the exhausting flurry of ideas, rhythms, textures and walloping noise that fill out the rest of the album. That said, it still manages to turn into a surprisingly anthemic stadium-filler halfway through.

If I were to have one criticism of The Brown Book, I’d say that though the recording and mastering here have been done by some established names (Keith Souza (Battles, Lightning Bolt), Alan Douches (Animal Collective, Don Caballero)) their sound could really benefit from a little clarity – easing off a little on the distortion to give a really nastily hard-hitting cleanliness to their guitars, and backing off the reverb/delay that muddies some of the more frantic playing could give The Brown Book one hell of a smack-in-the-mouth sucker punch of a sound.

Overall though, if any of this sounds remotely interesting you should definitely check this band out – a bunch of guys totally into making music that interests and excites them as much as pleasing an audience, and really doing a fine thing making their music available to people without waiting around for someone with some cash to pull their thumb our of their ass and release this rather fine record. Do it.

The Brown Book website

The Brown Book myspace

Stillbirth / Persimmons Pomegranate Split (CS, Jugular Forest)

Posted: May 19th, 2009, by Justin Snow

I went to an amazing noise show the other night where Keith Fullerton Whitman and Geoff Mullen did another one of their stunning live collaborations and opening for them was the newly formed Boston based duo Perispirit. If you haven’t checked out their debut double cassette release, Forced-Choice Test, I highly recommend you do so because it’s absolutely amazing. But anyway, Perispirit is comprised of Ricardo Donoso and Luke Moldof, and Moldof also records under the name Stillbirth. So I found this little tape sitting innocuously in the corner of the merch table and snagged it up. After getting home and listening to it, I’m really glad I did because this is easily one of the best tapes I’ve heard all year.

The tape is made of two 7+ minute pieces, with Stillbirth’s being the more understated of the two. Soft stretched out guitar drones that breathe life into your speakers. Full of subtle beauty that compels me to stroll through an open sunny field with the breeze blowing through my coat tails.

Persimmons Pomegranate isn’t so much a new name to me but this is the first I’ve ever heard his music. His piece, “Stagnant Before A Fall,” is thick, brittle buzzing drone that rattles every hair on your body. I can’t imagine a better companion for Stillbirth on this tape. Persimmons’ side is just as subtle and beautiful as Stillbirth’s, except the delicacy is forsaken and the volume is cranked up to 11.

I can’t believe it took me this long to ever get around to hearing Persimmons Pomegranate (great name, btw). Two outstanding pieces of music that really complement each other. A perfect example of why splits are made. There are only 75 copies of this tape available so I suggest you hurry up and head to the Jugular Forest website so you can score one for yourself.

Jugular Forest

Black Hell – How The Rest Was Lost (CD, Sounds Of Battle And Souvenir Collecting)

Posted: May 12th, 2009, by Justin Snow

Sometimes I feel like certain genres are a little stagnant. With good reason, though. I mean, it’s not like it’s easy to come up with something completely new and original. That doesn’t happen very often. And when it does, it’s only a matter of time before it gets copied and redone by everyone else, essentially rendering your unique vision to become part of the norm.

Black Hell’s newest CD, How The Rest Was Lost isn’t breaking much new ground. Sure they are doing their best to mix up the regular stoner metal cliche with moments of doom, ambience and psychedelia but it only ever amounts to another awesome metal record. Which isn’t a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination.

But the thing is, no matter how much I feel like I’ve heard this a dozen times before, I’ve never heard How The Rest Was Lost. This is a brand new record. And Black Hell made it. Not The Sword (I think). And it is ridiculously fucking metal. The riffs on this are chugging and wicked catchy and the solos are white hot. It’s nothing mind blowing but I still love it and it rocks nonetheless. My final test of greatness for metal of this variety is whether or not I would like to play it on Guitar Hero. Black Hell passes with flying colors. I would love to slay this beast on Expert and look totally stupid doing it.

Black Hell
Sounds Of Battle And Souvenir Collecting

MICACHU – Jewellery (CD, Accidental Records/Rough Trade)

Posted: April 28th, 2009, by JGRAM

With her backing band The Shapes the debut album from Micachu is a wretched mess of ideas and systematic hooks that sound autistic and extrovert.

Not very easy on the ear on first listen the fifteen tracks on display here display a sense of adventure not so common in modern (accepted) music and in many ways actually reminds me of those wonky early Pavement EPs that could often be rendered into nothing more than glorious noise.  Rather than hulking lo-fi guitars here Micachu exhibits a more eclectic arsenal of instruments in reckless abandon (many homemade and very unorthodox) suggesting a personal leaning and preference towards Beck and a poison combination of whitey folk hip hop.

In her voice Micachu displays something of a hybrid of Kimya Dawson and a drunken teenage Polly Harvey (especially on “Guts”) as the music drips in Bjork weirdness but in a favourably M.I.A. crossed with Captain Beefheart influenced manner.  That is not forgetting the Raincoat-esqe tone of sarcasm.

Produced by Matthew Herbert the rhythms hold surprisingly well considering what they are manufactured by as something of a paper thin version of legendary musical strangeness, sounding like a true outsider even if she is not necessarily one.  That said, the times the songs fall on their arse they do come with something of a passing resemblance to The Shaggs in delivery and mentality.

You can tell the young Micachu has listened to music all her life as she rips off the intro to The Champs “Tequila” on “Calculator” probably without even realising it.

The highlight of the piece is “Worst Bastard” with its genuine pop hooks and tasty sentiments that provide real attitude and a flow that energises.

Ultimately the results are mixed as songs begin to lose hooks in preference to extensive meandering and exploration making the album something of a patience tester but equally unique in execution and definitely something to search out in the name of adventure.

You may hate me for “recommending” this record.

Thesaurus moment: intrepid.


Accidental Records

Rough Trade

Realax – Apollo Guise (CD, Little Fury Things)

Posted: April 14th, 2009, by Justin Snow

When I read the description of this CD on the Little Fury Things website, I thought to myself, “Oh, that sounds like it’ll be pretty good.” It’s ridiculous how naive I was at that point. Looking back at myself those few weeks ago, I see a sad young boy who thought he knew about good music. I see a boy who thought he knew what the words “dance” and “drone” meant. I see a boy waiting to have his life completely changed by a little record with a terrible name.

OK, so maybe that’s a little dramatic. But then again, chances are you haven’t heard Realax’s Apollo Guise either. And until you do, we can just pretend that that whole first paragraph is the total truth. I instantly fell for Apollo Guise as soon as I threw it on. I fell hard. It’s fuzzy (though not as fuzzy as the crazed out fuzzsters like Wavves or Vivian Girls) and it’s droney and it’s dancey. How could I not love this to death?

I think a solid comparison would be Usputuspud’s Disco tape and Fricara Pacchu’s Midnight Pyre. Apollo Guise has similar blown out, noisey elements like the ones found on Pyre but instead of being totally fucking crazy, it takes the chill drone approach and throws down some awesome beats like Disco. When you take two of my top 10 releases from last year and tell me there’s a new album that sounds like both of them put together, chances are I’m gonna get a little excited.

Even despite all of the song titles filled with silly wordplay (“X Or Size,” “Melonaire”), this record is definitely one of the best I’ve heard yet this year. Maybe I’m easy in that if you make anything dancey and droney I’m gonna fawn all over it, getting down on my knees and hailing it as the next best thing. But I like to think I have a least a little integrity and some standards. Either way, Apollo Guise is the next best thing.

Little Fury Things

CHARLIE PARR – Roustabout (CD/LP, Misplaced Music)

Posted: February 14th, 2009, by Dave Stockwell

It’s been almost four years since bluegrass boy Charlie Parr hit paydirt and considerable acclaim with his fourth album “Rooster”, but it’s not like he’s been sitting on his hands ever since; “Roustabout” is his seventh full-length release, and the first to be released by Bristol-based label, the highly excellent Misplaced Music. Misplaced are celebrating this by making it  first ever long playing record they’ve ever released – vinyl limited to 500 copies, though you can get it on plain ol’ CD too if needs be.

Charlie’s sound, rooted in the crackling ’20s and a’30s recordings of Smithsonian Folkways and discoveries by Harry Smith, can hardly be charged to have ‘progressed’ since his first album 8 years ago, but then that would be beside the point. Fingerpicked resonator, 12-string guitar and banjo accompany his unique gravelly voice as he works his way through twelve songs, three of which are covers – not that you’d know it, to his eternal credit.

“Authenticity” is a word that has been misused for so long that it seems an awful tar to brush someone with, but by God Charlie deserves to reclaim it for the realms of respectability. He’s not some godawful “roots” act wishing that it’s still the (original) Great Depression and we all live in mud huts in Virginia – Charlie sings about the world around him without pretense or irony. There’s no hint of cynicism about him. To that I can say only one word: HURRAH!

Speaking plainly, if you heard and liked “Rooster”, you should get this. If you haven’t heard Charlie Parr before, you should go to his myspace page, listen to him, and buy this. Alright?

“Roustabout” is available from all good shops from Monday 17th February. Charlie’s currently in tour in Ireland andthe UK until the end of the month. Go check him out.



diskant +1

Posted: February 8th, 2009, by Justin Snow

Update: So… I realized that my sarcastic humor might not be easily detectable via the interwebs. After letting my original post simmer, I decided it was unlike myself and I was actually kind of embarrassed by it. The following is what it should have read all along.

I have been recruited to write for one of the greats. Writing for diskant is going to be a great pleasure and I hope everyone else enjoys it as much as I do. Thanks for Marceline for inviting me over here.

Here’s a quick rundown of Justin Snow related info:
I am married. My wife’s name is Elise. Her family history goes back to Cornwall. Does that get me any UK cred?
I have 2 bunnies (Yoshimi & Hodge). They are lovers. And they are my babies.
I have 1 hedgehog. His name is Acorn and he is very prickly.
I live in Salem, Massachusetts. There are people here that actually consider themselves witches. I am not one of them.
I have a never-ending desire to consume as much music as possible that I hope translates into awesome stuff to read at diskant.