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diskant rewind: Asking For Trouble #5

Posted: April 3rd, 2009, by Marceline Smith

(Originally posted May 2002)

Asking For Trouble by Marceline Smith

The real reason this month’s issue of the diskant ZINE was delayed is of course because the deadline was three days before the new Trail of Dead single was released and I didn’t know how else to start my column.

So, Trail of Dead, they’re fantastic live and to equal this their records would have to jump off your turntable and run riot around your room before kicking over your stereo, stealing your whisky and fighting with some dustbunnies on the carpet. That makes Another Morning Stoner [the Interscope Corporation of America] a bit of a letdown really as it does none of these things even after I taunted it and offered it high quality drugs. Yeah, actually, I haven’t even bought it yet. I’ve tried two record stores so far and neither had it. Nice sleeve though eh?

Okay, I’ve got it now, both formats, chart return shop etc. So let’s slip the walnut coloured vinyl on to my stereo. Another Morning Stoner is still such a good ‘just woke up’ song, the woozy guitars tripping over themselves and Conrad sounding just a little disorientated. Aw. The b-sides are all Peel session songs spread over the formats so the 7″ gets Homage sounding oddly clean and sparky. Where’s the dirt, man? S’weird. Buy this for the FREE POSTER though of our boys looking like teen girl poster pinups. Oh Yes. The CD version is a fancy interactive thing – oooooh. Golly, you can watch the video [which is an ace collage of stuff from the Astoria, Peel Session, Columbia Hotel and arty places in Paris] and it has hilarious desktop wallpaper. The session songs on here are much better – Baudelaire being almost better for the clear vocals and Richter Scale Madness sounding awesome. Big loud guitars, hollering, whooping, thumping drums and one of their best songs ever. Kill! Kill! etc. “Did we pass the audition?”, asks Neil [probably] after? hahaha. I mean, yes.

Fellow Texans The Mars Volta, as everyone knows, come complete with former members of At The Drive-In. Now, I always had a lot of respect for ATD-I even if their music never hit me too hard so it was a nice surprise to find that The Mars Volta pretty much rule live. So I forked out some cash on this Tremulant EP [GSL]. The vinyl is the colour of banana milkshake and I’m quite tempted to chew on it to see if it tastes of artificial banana. Anyway, Cut That City starts off pretty dull and then BAM! smacks into some frantic, skittering rock complete with searing guitars, wailing vocals, stop start antics, electronic blooping and a seasick swaying interlude. Nice work. Concertina comes across quite sensitive and pleading, managing to do the thoughtful rock out thing very well with some intricate little vocal lines and sharp guitar bursts. Side two gives us Eunuch Provocateur whose title and beginning bring on a worried brow – it actually sounds like the theme song to an overblown police cop tv show. I can hear a catchy tune and some weirdo electronics but it’s altogether a bit hmm and eventually works up into a lot of piffling and clattering beats. I’ll be tempted to buy the album though.

OXES are stupid. The best thing about OXES is that when you listen to their records you can hear that they’re making stupid goon faces. Half Half and Half [Monitor] even sounds like they’re walking around the recording studio in oversized clown shoes licking Bob Weston’s face while filling his purse with sugar cubes so he’ll look like an idiot when he goes out to buy a new hat. OXES songs are stupid. They cover the Foo Fighters on the b-side starting off in a ‘this is how YOU play the guitar, like YOUR MUM’ way while Dave Grohl whimpers in the corner and then they hit the rock in a ‘THIS is how you play the rock you wussy lamerockstar’ way while Dave Grohl whimpers in the corner. That’s funny. OXES are funny.

The Sick Anchors are Aidan Arab Strap, wee Stuart Mogwai and some other bloke with a new 7″ record on Lost Dog Recordings. They cover Atomic Kitten, The Fall and some other band. You might imagine this would be funny but of course it’s nothing of the sort. Aidan’s choked up broken voice and Stuart’s heart tugging guitar find unnoticed beauty in the overscrubbed shininess of Whole Again turning it into a late night epic while You Always Hurt The One You Love should soundtrack a late night 3am bar scene in some slightly twisted art movie. It’s all breathy whispered vocals, tinkling piano and eerie strings. The best song is on the other side though – a drawn out cover of The Fall’s Bill Is Dead which sounds like the best bits of quiet Mogwai and the best bits of quiet Arab Strap. I can’t describe how lovely this is. If I was an over romantic fool I’d want this played at my wedding. I’m actually a pathetic wuss though so I’m just going to play it next time I’m feeling slightly fragile. Oh! It’s the song for the morning after that late night in the eerie freak bar from the other side. Got it. Would be best if you didn’t get up until late and found the sun was already setting on the day you missed.

I saw Arab Strap the other week at the Triptych festival and they gave everyone a free six track cd called Quiet Violence which was jolly nice of them. It’s similar to the stuff they played on the night – warm downbeat songs. Who Named The Days? is just gorgeous with lovely lovely violin and cello surrounding Aidan’s musings with just the hint of a drumbeat in the background. The First Time You’re Unfaithful is more standard Strap fare but still beautiful. It’s got a lilting tune but with that sordid scabby edge we’ve come to expect. Would make you cry if Aidan wasn’t saying stuff like ‘I’m such a lying cunt’. Ahh. The other songs are all sounding ace as well notably the cello on Loch Leven and the archaic sounding clunky drum machine on closer We Don’t Make Each Other Laugh Anymore. Ah, you shoulda been there. Fool.

My wondersome discovery of the month is the Electro Group from Sacramento. I can’t really take credit for this though since Team Gringo brought them right to my doorstep so it’s like saying I discovered milk. Anyway, A New Pacifica [Omnibus] is a bargainous 14 tracker (15 if you count the secret track, which I don’t really since it sounds like an airplane taking off. A pretty cool airplane mind you) and sounds like it was made just for me and all my sad shoegazing friends. Take the swirling poptunes of Lush and shake them up with some fuzzed out My Bloody Valentine guitars and you’ll certainly be making me happy. The best tracks are when the bass throbs with the distortion of a fluffy electric blanket and the vocals soar high and lovely like on opener Trigger/Repeat/Hold and the squalling Line of Sight. Continental is the one I can’t stop singing along to, having one of those catchy ner-ner-ner-ner guitar lines, not to mention a lovely vocal melody and shimmery harmonies, all enveloped in a shower of guitars and ending with a juddering bassline. Can’t Remember is one of the prettiest little songs with just plucked guitars, melodica and lovely harmonies and closer Red Lectroid Orchestra has a sugarsweet tune and seesawing guitars. I can’t wait til it’s properly summer and I can go listen to this in a meadow somewhere.

Electro Group also have a track on this here split single on Slide The Needle Records. Their song is called Panzer Treat and has their usual fuzzy guitars and swooping vocal melodies and a nice kickstarting joggy rhythmic action that will have you dancing in your seat. The other side features The Rocking Horse Winner who I know nothing about but Tomorrow has Juliana Hatfield style cutesy vocals over some some pretty sugar coated guitar pop. It’s all very nice but not completely exciting. I think it’s the fact that I can imagine this as the theme song to a bad american teen drama that’s putting me off.

I haven’t seen Rumah Sakit live but this album was recorded live so that’s almost as good. Definite winner of the packaging award this month with an astonishing four layers of beauty. Also wins Adrian our diskant suckup award of the month for getting ‘diskant rocks’ stamped into every copy as well as my name. Awwww, that’s staff loyalty for you. Shame I dislocated my shoulder lifting the ultra heavy vinyl on to my turntable though. And then opener New Underwear Dance‘s sprightly guitars had me thinking I was playing it on the wrong speed but correct it was. I imagine this is post rock but it’s got heart and not a spot of dirgy self-importance. They even call one of their songs No One Likes A Grumpy Cripple. The songs are softly quirky and jerky with delightfully melodic rhythms, mathy at times and with gorgeously swoony flourishes. Live dates here please.

I’d also lke to mention that the new Reynolds album is staggeringly great. You’re going to love it. Proper review soon if I can prise the song titles from Chris.

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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