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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.

Keeping on the Texan rock tip, I got a bunch of other stuff from Paintcan Chandelierier of which The Crack Pipes were my out and out favourite. I loved Hot Dang so much I picked up a copy of the album Every Night Saturday Night [Sympathy for the Record Industry] which doesn’t have anything quite as immediate on it but still rocks in an uncomplicated way. It’s got a retro garage rock thing going on in a Rocket from the Crypt kinda way. Lots of ‘yeah!’s, ‘hey-hey-hey’s, squealing guitars, hollering and dirty riffs. Yeah!

Long time diskant allies The Oedipus finally have a proper release out after a bunch of split singles. It’s an EP called Blueprint for Ruins [Badmusic] and damn good it is too. The Oedipus always make me feel really tired and old – their enthusiasm and excitement just shines through in every song and you’ve got to be really alert to keep up with the twists and turns in both the songs and the sounds. Principles Run In Straight Lines has an almighty pace to it with some fairly frantic vocals, in fact they almost seem to tire themselves out as they stop dead for a break near the end. Other songs are more relaxed affairs but still changing pace or direction as they go to keep you on your toes. Impressive moments include the instrumental Cities Versus Suburbs with its picked out soothing reverberations, Thomas Jeffries which starts out with some nodding downbeat guitars and vocals before working up into something altogether more cutting with some mighty dual guitars and opener Pioneer which has probably the most usual song stucture of the EP.

The Oedipus also feature on a split 7″ with Reynolds on the new Traditional Songs label. The Reynolds side Stopper is a rowdy slab of instrumental rock with the most thunderous bass you’re likely to hear this side of armageddon. I get the feeling that Reynolds really hate someone and I hope it’s never me. The whole song sounds like they’re staring you out, waiting for you to give them an excuse, any excuse, to come over and kick your head in. And when it does kick off it’s almost a relief from the oppressiveness and tension. It’s the perfect song for a killer bad mood and the louder you play it the better it sounds.

For an altogether different kind of bad mood, the brooding, sighing kind, there’s nothing better than some whisky sodden folk and blues. Preferably played by some of your favourite musicians in a tiny hot basement with half your friends from near and far. I had just such a pleasure watching David Pajo, Tara Jane O’Neil and Stuart Braithwaite singing their hearts out in Nice and Sleazy’s the other week as Papa M. I could have listened to them all night. It felt more like a family get-together than a gig. If we’d all been asked to sing along or to each do a party piece I’m sure it would have happened. They were supported by Chris Mack’s solo turn The James Orr Complex whose intricate and thoughtful balladry brought the room to silence.

And when you’ve drowned your bad mood I always feel I need some comfort music – the sort that fits perfectly into a sunday afternoon. Thus I’ve been immersing myself in the new album Alive To Every Smile by Trembling Blue Stars [Shinkansen]. l’m sure you’re aware that the band features ex-members of Sarah bands The Field Mice, Brighter and Aberdeen and you’re quite possibly on twee alert. Well, if this kind of heart-achingly sad music doesn’t bring a tear to your eye the you ain’t got no heart. I’ve not actually picked up any of TBS’s previous releases other than the first 7″ so it’s been lovely to see that the ghost of The Field Mice still hovers poignantly over these new songs. There’s the same forlorn, lovelost feeling to Bob Wratten’s voice and new girl Beth adds some lovely backing vocals and underneath the music is quietly upbeat.

My other comfort music discovery lately has been Death Cab For Cutie. I’ve been meaning to check them out for a while now but never have for one reason or another. I got hold of an enormous amount of MP3s recently though including four by DCFC and after repeated listens I’m going to be running out to buy one of their albums once I get paid to fuel my need for new songs. The songs I have are just so simple and the vocals so clear and expressive. I guess I’m just a sucker for uncomplicated guitar music with friendly story-telling singers.

So what of great new hopes The Strokes? I’ve been a slightly shameful fan since I saw them play with Trail of Dead and spent a while collecting up their songs from various sources. then I wangled myself an interview with them and was dumbstruck by their stupidity and inability to answer a question with anything other than a cliche. I was also hugely disappointed by the single version of Hard To Explain [Rough Trade 7″] so it’s all kind of soured for me. I fully intended to buy the album but I haven’t really cared enough to do so yet. I’ll probably wait and pick up a secondhand copy. I heard most of it in Sleazy’s the other day and it all sounded so samey and flat. There’s just no substance to The Strokes and I’ll be very interested to see if they’ve got another album in them. I think it’s far more likely they’ll be sitting blankly in the studio in three years time trying to remember how to write songs that aren’t called ‘We Like Party Girls’.

Which leads us on perfectly to the Yummy Fur, a band who could quite easily have written a song called ‘We Like Party Girls’ only it would be about prostitutes and avant-garde clowns on television. I mention the Yummy Fur because I discovered a copy of their first ten-song 7″ Music by Walt Disney but Played by Yuri Gagarin Thus a Political Record [Slampt] in the secondhand section of Missing for £2.99 (!) and it’s rekindled my love for their lyrical genius and cranky guitars. They’re long-gone now but go dig out their stuff if you’re not familiar with it and get down with the sound of bored film-obsessed Glasgow geek kids. On crack, naturally. Wee Stuart Mogwai played their Supermarket during his Trail of Dead aftershow DJ set and I could have hugged him.

On which note I should probably end this.

Further information
…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead
A Roman Scandal
Paintcan Chandelierier
Papa M
Trembling Blue Stars
Death Cab For Cutie
The Strokes

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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