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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RACHEL STEVENS – Come And Get It (Polydor)

Posted: October 7th, 2005, by Alasdair R

A thirst for adventure can be great thing. Sometimes a quest to try something new can push you into places and situations that you might never have expected. You can find yourself pulled towards the unknown and the familiar in unequal measures. Sometimes you find yourself where you least want to be, and savoring every moment despite yourself.

Finding yourself liking the new Rachel Stevens album can be like that, if you let it. I think I can pretty safely assume that the bulk of the diskant massive will be quick to dismiss the ice cool pop confectionary that is “Come And Get It” – to do so would be like standing up blind date that could have led to a love affair.

A small army of competing producers and writers have put together some of the best pop songs of the moment. Each aims to win you over with cool hooks, lines and electric melodies. This is not the MOR drivel of Atomic Kitten or the needless bleatings of Geri Haliwell, this is cutting edge electronic pop without a hint of the hyperactive desperation of Lisa Scott Lee.

Separation of singer from song writing means it is hard to describe this as Rachel Steven’s album. She has become a character in her own story, an at turns cynical and charming caricature of a modern pop star. The Rachel Stevens of ‘Come And Get It’ holds on to a fist full of broken promises and unfulfilled dreams but enjoys the uncertainty and intensity of trying to make them come good.

I’m not going to try and pretend that there are no cliched lyrics or deny that at times an over-reliance on the mixing desk can leave the listener cold. But then Stevens is not straining to be earnest and when compared to the emotional pornography of Coldplay and James Blunt, the very idea of a modern pop artist that is not trying to raw or ‘real’ is invigorating.

The sound of Rachel Stevens is not that of a heart breaking, it is of moving on and enjoying the adventure of modern life.

The Official Rachel Stevens

How To Swim In September

Posted: September 28th, 2005, by Alasdair R

It was a cold September evening and I was travelling across town to see Misty’s Big Adventure play King Tut’s. Unsure of what to expect, I had hoped to get a listen of their debut LP, The Black Hole, beforehand but I forgot. The free newspaper which litters Glasgow’s buses these days had given them a brief but curious write-up. I had seen it that morning and read it again as I crossed the city on what was my 5th bus journey that day. “Eclectic-Jazz-Brummies” was the gist of the worrying description…

The first band on were called El Jugador, an entertaining four piece consisting of two guys and two girls. As they hit the first chords of their opening song I wondered how long it would be until I thought they were rubbish. As it turned out, I didn’t have time to finish that thought and was quickly trying to stop myself from laughing out loud. Despite this I thought they were good fun, a bit daft and perhaps a bit casual. I don’t know if it was lack of rehearsal or confidence but there seemed to be a certain energy missing. Although they did have a matey charm that made me warm to them a little and feel mean for not liking them more.

Misty’s Big Adventure
was everything I feared and more. Overtly smug and painfully eccentric, I was nauseated by the over-riding pretension. Inventive and catchy arrangements, that owed a significant debt to classic Hanna-Barbara cartoon scores, were overshadowed by pithy lyrics and live ‘sampling’ of electronic nursery toys. In the interest of fairness I should point out that the most of the audience seemed to be able hear something I didn’t and were on the whole receptive to the front man’s dour, deadpan delivery.

I got so angry that the unhappy little man wouldn’t shut up about George Bush, having two brains and ‘tapeworms of love’, and therefore ruining the great music produced by the rest of the highly talented band, that I had to sit at the side and hold my head in my hands. I guess I didn’t get it then, the buttoned down square that I am.

How To Swim in comparison were like a hot water bottle on a winter’s night. A multi layered melt of sounds and instruments, the band teased some great melodies out of what could be easily be an overcrowded mess. There were at least 9 folk on the small stage, the fact that they all could fit was almost as impressive as their beautiful songs.

I had seen them live once a couple of months before and was disappointed to see that, whilst still putting on great show, the band were not enjoying themselves as much as before. I couldn’t help thinking that there must have been some reason, perhaps nerves due to being the last band on, that enthusiasm was not always as it could be throughout the set.

So, all in all, an interesting night. Misty’s might be the more polished band but How To Swim are the ones that I’m looking forward to hear more from.

INFLUX – I Got Held Up… (Bunkeruk Records)

Posted: September 22nd, 2005, by Alasdair R

Sweaty, dumb and vacuous fun – Influx are fit to burst with ambition.

Their recent single ‘I Got Held Up…’ finds the band apparently fired up by secrets, lies and traffic. Oh the complicated joys of car ownership and dating. A not bad effort, it doesn’t shine as brightly as the band achingly want it too.

B-Side ‘When It Got Light’ is a much closer realisation of the band’s strengths. Fast, vital, but still rough round the edges, it is the soundtrack to the best half-remembered great lads nights out. It is (almost) as satisfying as getting off your face, stopping your mate starting a fight he couldn’t finish and falling in love with your best friend all over again.


SIMON HEARTFIELD – Permanent Way (Hackpen Records)

Posted: September 15th, 2005, by Alasdair R

With this sharp, stylish and dark collection of techno-house Simon Heartfield has produced a record to be proud of. With splintered confidence Permanent Way provides an atmospheric journey through backstreets, basements and bedsits. At times haunting, at others exhilarating, the listener is treated to a story of restlessness and resentment, told only through textured beats and buried samples.

Mixing elements of break beat, electro, house, techno and punk Heartfield has produced dance music that is very much of the moment. There are flashes of retro house that take me back to basement raves I’ve never been to alongside outstanding fractured drum patterns that I expect to be dancing to in the near future.

Hackpen Records

ARSEY ROB – Stole My Girlfriend (Beerglass Records)

Posted: September 14th, 2005, by Alasdair R

I can’t play any musical instruments. I quite fancied learning to play the drums but as the few lessons I took gave me earache I quickly realised that I was not destined for a career in percussion. At school I had to take up the recorder and keyboards for a short period of time but I showed no flair for either (unless you counted being able to play the recorder through your nose a talent). I was told that I couldn’t sing when I tried out for my school’s yearly musical, ending my career in musical theatre before it could begin.

All the while I’ve still thought ‘I could do that’ when I’ve heard the likes of Mylo, Fat Boy Slim or Moby on the radio. I’m much more computer literate than musically gifted and I guess I’ve had an unfounded suspicion that I could knock up a half decent tune if I had the right software.

It sounds like Arsey Rob has had a similar suspicion and has produced an album that he imagines to be much more than half decent. I will have to disagree and say that on the whole listening to Stole My Girlfriend is as exciting as watching a film you’ve already seen too many times before and you didn’t much like it the first time either.

When done well electronica can seem blindingly simple and life enriching, or at least fun to dance to. Arsey Rob Stole My Girlfriend isn’t even half way there. This record makes me realise that making fun and exciting music on a computer must be harder than playing a recorder with your nose.

beerglass records

JACEN SOLO – Virgo (Ai Records)

Posted: July 11th, 2005, by Alasdair R

Fusing sparse house and techno beats with subtle electro noise-mongering, Jacen Solo has created an album of character that is both engaging and surprising. With subtle shifts in scale and resonance this is an emotive and limitless space-age soundscape that envelopes the listener. Repeated listens have eroded my initial opinion of it being a click and whir away from pretentious knob twiddling twoddle and revealed the pleasure to be found in its dark and measured ambient techno. Virgo showcases faultless production and a masterful handling of pace and drama which can make absorbing, if not easy, listening.

Ai Records

JEREMY WARMSLEY – I Believe In The Way You Move (exercise1)

Posted: July 5th, 2005, by Alasdair R

As diversity can be valuable and in my own white male geeky way I’ve been ‘hired’ to bring something a little different to the diskant table. I listen to Girls Aloud, by choice and I enjoy it too. I’ve never knowingly heard a Black Flag track and I preferred Hole to Nirvana. I’m not ashamed and that wasn’t meant as a confession, just laying my cards out before starting this review properly.

Jeremy Warmsley’s press release tells me that he has created a ‘a truly original style that remains uniquely accessible’. Rubbish. On listening to the cd it is accompanying I find that Warmsley has created a pocket of experimentation that while being quite fun and spirited is not well defined enough to be accurately described as ‘truly original’. It’s accessible as long as you enjoy listening to the sound of the lo-fi bedroom white boy riding again. By at turns confidently and clumsily merging a twee indie sound with skittering electronica, Warmsley has produced a sketchy debut that I’ve been finding hard to love or hate.

jeremy warmsley