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!

 Subscribe in a reader

Recent Interviews

diskant Staff Sites

More Sites We Like

Author Archive

DOG MEN POETS: Birth Of The Cool

Posted: June 23rd, 2005, by Tom Leins

Texan/Scottish pop troupe Dog Men Poets describe themselves as ‘The A-Team kidnapping George Clinton on their way to Mexico’. I think they sound more like The Fugees kidnapping The Red Hot Chilli Peppers on their way to Walmart!

The band numbers a Scottish singer (his name’s Matt Barker in case anyone out there knows him), a renowned Slam Poet, a beat-boxing percussive machine and “one of the few guitarists to have played with both Stevie-Ray Vaughan and Snoop Dogg” (presumably not at the same time). [Fact fans: If anyone out there can think of one of the other guitarists to have played with the aforementioned duo, send your answers on a post-card to the usual address, or scratch them into your arm with a blunt pencil – whichever, really…

Oh, yeah- they’ve also got a drummer who used to play in an international reggae band called Buffalo Solder. If that isn’t a mis-print, then Buffalo Solder is my favourite band name since Pubic Enemy(!).
But i digress. This is a slick, multi-cultural grab-bag of radio-friendly, child-friendly, Walmart-friendly funk-hop. Not really my cup of funk-hop, but that shouldn’t affect their depressingly-inevitable progress. They’ll doubtless be huge.

PS. 102.5 FM, Mexico City thinks that “This disc’s loaded with hot adrenalin and funk. Dig it.” Who am i to argue?


CAPTAIN KENNEDY: Hard Time Wakin’ In The Mornin’

Posted: June 23rd, 2005, by Tom Leins

Amiable countrified post-Britpop shenanigans from new Northern Ireland-based record-collection-raidin’ five-piece Captain Kennedy. Opening track ‘Sweetest Friend’ echoes ‘Very Best Friend’ by widely-ignored Noel Gallagher acolytes Proud Mary in both title and tone, and the band set their retro stall out from the offset. ‘Hard To Find’ is a woozy mid-period Dylan shuffle and ‘Bill Bussa Blues’ is a coked-up ‘Second Coming’/’Be Here Now’ guitar workout that Noel himself would surely approve of. A perfectly respectable debut release, but next time around i’d like to see a bit more of their own personalities and a bit less of their record collections.


AMERICAN ZEN: Level 1 (Shaolin Records)

Posted: June 13th, 2005, by Tom Leins

“Coyote began playing flute after having a dream about living in a renaissance world where sorcery and sex destroyed a kingdom.” So begins the press release for ‘Level 1′ – the debut album by American Zen – “America’s first Buddhist Rock Band”.
Ageing frontman Coyote is a Spanish-guitar-strummin’, flute-tootin’, self-styled folk mystic. With a trailerpark haircut. After leaving school, Coyote hitchhiked across North America with only a harmonica and a Bowie knife. The songs on this album are apparently true-stories of Coyote’s conflicts with Mormons(!). The songs on this album make you wish that all of those nasty hitchhiker horror stories were true. (Queasy Mormon-baiting flute-pop aside, there is also a selection of eleven poems (mainly) about children.)
Over the years, Coyote has played with Mick Fleetwood, Badfinger, Supertramp and Frank Zappa; whilst ex-bandmates have joined bands like The Eagles and Chicago. Is he bitter? Hell, no! Who needs cash, coke and album charts when you’ve got a song called ‘Whose Heaven Is This?’ that “features ukulele by Rory G.”? Eat your heart out, Les McQueen.
I’ll allow Coyote the last word: “I probably could be in a big name band myself, but that’s not my path. I’ve got my own stories to tell. Nothing’s better than sharing your creativity and getting some applause for it.”
‘Keep creating Coyote. We’ll keep clapping.’*


*Not my words…

BULLETPROOF: Bulletproof (Function Records)

Posted: June 13th, 2005, by Tom Leins

This is the eponymous second album from Jersey’s old-skool punk die-hards Bulletproof. It’s rough-around-the-edges and a bit clumsy in places, but, i’ll wager Bulletproof are probably the most exciting thing to happen to Jersey since Bergerac hung up his bomber jacket. They attack the usual worthy punk-rock targets (and spit plenty of venom in Dubya’s direction) but, with their re-heated Clash-isms, Bulletproof don’t really do anything that Rancid didn’t do much better ten years ago. Still, Rancid are punk-rock millionaires and don’t really need your support. Unless they are being bankrolled by fictional millionaire Charlie Hungerford (Terence Alexander), Bulletproof probably DO need your support. They’re not going to set the world on fire, but, in all fairness, who actually wants to set the world on fire?!


MARMADUKE DUKE: The Magnificent Duke (Captains Of Industry)

Posted: June 2nd, 2005, by Tom Leins

Those of you who find yourself shuddering and reaching for sharp implements when you see the words ‘concept’ and ‘album’ would be well-advised to look away now…

‘The Magnificent Duke’ is a busy, busy album. Unsettling yet compelling – just like conjoined children… And, just like with conjoined children, with Marmaduke Duke we also get more than we bargained for. In this case: a bubbling cauldron full of post-hardcore yelps, metal guitars, subdued indie and twiddly prog mannerisms. They say ‘cocktail’, I say ‘stew’ – but, then again, i’ve always preferred stew.

Usually when i stumble across prog musicians lurking in the wild, nourishing themselves on chunks of old vinyl and scraps of tree-bark i’d flush them out of hiding with punk-rock music, trap them with a burlap sack and drown them in the nearest reservoir, but, with Marmaduke Duke i’m happy to make an exception.

The press release is laudably pretentious, and can only be encouraged. “[They] won’t be so crass as to use the words ‘genius’ or ‘classic’ – they’re long since redundant terms in the modern pop lexicon, over-used and worthless. Nor shall we use such regimented ideas of ‘band’ and ‘album’.” Similarly, I wouldn’t be so crass as to give this album a ‘review’ (bad or otherwise) as such. After all, who knows what it would do to their prog-addled minds? (I think they’ve already got enough jazz-rock turmoil to be getting on with for one band…)

Not a bad album, by any stretch of the imagination, just a preposterously overblown one. But, if there’s room for The Mars Volta in your life, then there’s almost certainly room for Marmaduke Duke and friends.


EMETREX: Wish Me Dead (Seriously Groovy)

Posted: June 2nd, 2005, by Tom Leins

Emetrex are the latest in a long-line of lo-fi, high-octane subterranean pop bands that America does so well. Their second album ‘Wish Me Dead’ is patchily brilliant, but brilliant nonetheless. A stripped-down, flame-grilled mix of desert rock, slacker-pop, molten riffs and grunge that manages to be brittle, nervy, raw and woozy all at the same time. If you can imagine Dinosaur Jr covering Sparklehorse using the Jesus and Mary Chain’s instruments you wouldn’t be a million miles away from Emetrex’s badly-blistered stoner-pop landscape. Album opener ‘I Think The Sun Makes Me Move’ is a brutally-short lesson in alt.perfection and sets the tone for their Sonic Youth-interfering-with-Spoon vibes. The album reportedly “chronicles the band’s own creative self-destruction”. I’ll applaud their appetite for destruction, but i certainly won’t be wishing them dead…
Steve Lamacq loves them, I love them, soon you’ll love them too.
A genuine off-kilter treat.


STILLMAN: The Weightless EP

Posted: May 28th, 2005, by Tom Leins

Stillman is the one-man-band alias of Chaz Craik – ex-lead guitarist in Cab – the Britpop band that never were. However, lest i mislead anyone, Stillman has little in common with the cheeky nostalgic bounce of Britpop. After spending two years on the dole eating Readybrek and baked beans (never in the same bowl!) Chaz honed his bittersweet melodies to near-perfection and cobbled together this remarkable EP using a couple of guitars and a creaking PC. With a voice pitched somewhere between Tom McCrae and Magnet’s Even Johansen and a batch of wistful vignettes that put me in mind of the cracked poetry of a post-Britpop Paul Simon, ‘The Weightless EP’ is a truly special record. This is music that glows with confidence; music shot-through with a brave ambitious streak – akin to a dole-queue version of Elbow. Heart-warming stuff.


THE SCARAMANGA SIX: Horrible Face (Wrath)

Posted: May 28th, 2005, by Tom Leins

Grandiose pop-noir from the hotly-tipped Wrath Records stable in Leeds…

‘Horrible Face’ is so bombastic it hurts… A swooning, crooning anti-tribute to an “ugly, ugly cow” by Leeds-based body-fascists/Wrath mainstays The Scaramanga Six. It’s easy to admire their epic aspirations, cheeky subversive streak and face-ache taunting agenda. It’s less easy to enjoy the record itself. Not that there’s anything intrinsically wrong with it (the coupling of lavish strings and mean-spirited lyrical content is a nice idea) but the song is tainted for me by the nasty whiff of novelty-pop piss-taking that hovers nearby.

As if to reinforce the point (and bolster their comic credentials), B-side ‘Elemental’ put me in mind of The Darkness trying to coax Electric Six into the back of an old estate car with sweets, puppies and novelty records. Make of that what you will.

However, final track ‘The Throning Room’ is a frantic dose of sweaty care-in-the-community noise-rock, and seems a lot more honest as a musical statement.

Whilst this single certainly isn’t as ‘horrible’ as i’ve probably made it sound, it’s hard to care too much about something as tongue-in-cheek and ultimately (gulp) soulless as this.



JULIAN GASKELL – Demonstration Recordings

Posted: May 9th, 2005, by Tom Leins

Julian Gaskell is part of the Icons of Poundland collective that wreaked musical havoc in the north-west with their home-baked folk/skiffle/punk mischief. He now resides in the more sedate climes of Falmouth and writes spooky, upbeat songs that sound like Tom Waits strung-out on fresh-air! The four tracks that make up ‘Demonstration Recordings’ aren’t a million miles from Mr Waits’ often-potent light jazz/dirty blues cocktail, and rattle between whacked-out, lowdown gritty stompers like ‘Learn From Your Mistakes’ and the gothic, gypsy-blues of ‘Gather! While Ye May’. His voice is full of bedraggled, smoky mystery and he plays guitar, harmonica, balalaika, banjo and zither. For anyone who doesn’t know what at least one of those instruments sounds like, the answer is: pretty special. This CD bubbles along like a particularly bucolic avant-folk experiment. If you like your avant-folk experiments bucolic then you’ve come to the right place.

Contact: julian@iconsofpoundland.co.uk