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

Archive for the 'interweb' Category

2010 catch-up: Websites

Posted: January 5th, 2011, by Marceline Smith

Some stuff we enjoyed on the internets in 2010.

One of my favourite blog discoveries this year was magculture, which covers both mainstream and independent magazines. If you think print is dead, a read of this will have you coveting all kinds of weird and wonderful publications.  I also loved Vending Spree, the new blog by TMN writer Matthew Baldwin, who is eating everything in his work’s vending machine and writing about it in a way that has made me “actual LOL” many times. I also joined infamous teen-bullying site Formspring, which can be used for good in the hands of adults – it’s been lots of fun answering questions (please do ask me one!). And finally, I am slightly obsessed by Everyday Cute, an insanely fun and adorable website by one of my favourite illustrators. Oh go on, you know you want to dress up a cat. (Marceline Smith)

I recently became the proud owner of an iPad, and as such read Podgamer religiously for scathingly honest game reviews and freebie notifications for all flavours of iThing. (Alex McChesney)

Facebook. My year began with my Facebook Cull which saw them threatening me in June with legal action before experiencing my worst cinema experience of the year in October watching The Social Network (decent film but awful audience) which has all in all resulted in one of my 2011 resolutions being to zap my profile. Of course the door remains open so it is going to be a real cold turkey battle of wills to see how long I can stick to it. I managed to catch Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network scriptwriter) in interview who explained how Zuckerberg has created a whole new method of human interaction over the year I have slowly/gradually found the website depressing me as it consistently rubbed reinvented versions of my friends in my face via the newsfeed. By the end of the year I had hidden the majority of people from the feed anyway. It just all makes my head pound and I couldn’t get enough! I’ll stick with Twitter though as I love the ego trip that is the followers concept. (JGRAM)

Byte.fm – quality alternative radio from Hamburg – huge whopping recommendation for the afrobeat hour, Tropeninstitut, (Saturday, 18hr).  theneedledrop.com– I like this dude’s video reviews – passionate about music and he knows his stuff. (Pascal Ansell)

The websites that have given me the most joy ths year:  www.thingsmagazine.comwww.flickr.comwww.litmanlive.mewww.enemiesofreason.co.uk,  plus my dangerous addiction to buying guitar effects pedals on eBay. (Stu Fowkes)

Christmas Catch-up: Websites

Posted: December 28th, 2009, by Marceline Smith

I’m slowly getting my head around the value of Spotify, and now realise it’s the music/internet of Christmas presents. Things that you might never want to buy for yourself, but that you don’t begrudge having around for entertainment. I’m not sure that I believe it’s so much of a ‘try before you buy’ service, but I don’t think it’s about to stop me buying records. It’s just going to make me listen to more music. (Simon Minter)

Few would deny that the epoch of human culture is the television theme song.  While such tunes have mostly been phased out by revenue hungry TV executives desperate to squeeze a few more seconds for advertising, in the heyday of television music – arguably the 50s to 80s – theme songs were masterworks of musical minimalism, laying out the flavor and narrative of a TV show in a hummable ditty.  And because these songs are the backbone of civilization, one would rightly be concerned that if they were to fade away, society might descend into animalistic savagery.  That’s why we should all be thankful for the website televisiontunes.com which has a vast collection of TV theme songs from popular shows everyone remembers to bizarre obscurities.  (Were you even aware there was a “Weird Al Show”?) Your friends, family and employers may grow frustrated as you whittle away the hours of your life absorbing each of the masterpieces contained within the site, but you’ll be content knowing you have dedicated your life to studying important cultural artefacts. (Wil Forbis)

Answer Me This!
Answer Me This! once again proved one of the most solid and reliably funny podcasts and in July I had the great experience of being at the live recording of the 100th episode which then doubled up as a treat when I got to ask (bobble) the 1000th question of its history. (JGRAM)

Sweetly odd comics about the adventures of Beartato.  Part bear, part potato. Link. (Alex McChesney)

What I Wore Today (in Drawings)
A genius idea from illustrator Gemma Correll, basically a Flickr group where shy illustrators can post drawings of their daily outfits. It’s an ace flipside to the sometimes terrifying narcissism of the Wardrobe Remix photo groups – in general it seems illustrators are much more likely to mock themselves, pointing out their ink-stained clothing and unbrushed hair. You can see my submissions here. (Marceline Smith)

Screw the internet!
Get off the internet! (Chris Summerlin)

Summer catch-up 2009: Websites

Posted: July 30th, 2009, by Marceline Smith

I just discovered Goodreads, aka “Last.fm for books” and I’ve joined up for the same reasons – in a few years time I can expect to look back and wonder when I got into Author X or be able to map my period of Y with a liking for Z. Or I might drop it after a month. [Stan Tontas]

Root Blog / Big States
Two places to download a stunning series of mixtapes released in editions of 100 at $3 a pop by the inimitable Mississippi Records. Their vinyl re-releases of old African music has occasionally seen them skirt rolayties/authorised release-related controversy, so their tack for 2009 has been just to stick all their favourite tunes from incalculably obscure records (and some not) ona  series of tapes and let customers buy them direct in the store for virtually nothing. If you don’t live in Portland, I suggest you log on to either of these websites and download the MP3s, because these tapes are KILLER. There’s so much music spread across 30-odd tapes to date that you’ll be kept in hog heaven for some time to come. Who gives a shit about crackly-vinyl-to-worn-tape-to-shitty-MP3-to-CDR sound quality when you can hear such a broad sweep of fantastic sounds from around the world and across the last century? [Dave Stockwell]

I’ve recently bought a digital SLR, which has taken over a lot of my spare time in a very enjoyable way, breaking into abandoned buildings to take generic art student bullshit photos in grainy black and white. Keeps me off the streets though, innit. But as such I’ve been using Flickr more and more, and discovering all the awesome bits like using the groups to their fullest, geotagging, the excellent cameras section and so on. Even the blog is great – it really feels like they’re as obsessed as their most hardcore user with photography, but are also bending over backwards to make it easy for totally casual users to join in. And their pro accounts are a snip. Heather Champ, I claim my £50 for this word of mouth recommendation. Thankyouverymuch. [Stuart Fowkes]

Daily Rodent
Unpretentious and irreverent videogames blog.  In a world where most games journalism is either depressingly infantile or up its own arse, Rodent has consistently maintained the balance. [Alex McChesney]

I’m not gonna lie. I’m a pirate. Times are rough and when I can, I spend every spare dollar on records. But I download more than my fair share of music and probably only listen to half of it once or twice. One of the problems I have is when I find a good blog that has a pretty much 100% awesome rate. basic_sounds is one of those blogs. Totally amazing obscure music, most of which I’ve never heard of. But the reason basic_sounds has me coming back repeatedly is that instead of dull descriptions of the music, she posts a few pieces from different artists. Every time you’re treated to contemporary, innovative, interesting, and beautiful art of all kinds with your regular dose of music downloads. I’ve yet to see another blog that combines two of my favorite things so well. [Justin Snow]

That’d have to be my own website, which I recently redesigned and repopulated with content, alongside a couple of other things that I write and work on. Hell, if I can’t promote it here then something’s very wrong with the world. Send your design work offers my way… [Simon Minter]

Super Cute Kawaii! / Vinyl Destination
Last year I was bigging up Twitter so I’m obviously way ahead of the curve and can rest on my laurels this year. Personally, Super Cute Kawaii has taken up much of my time, the internet’s hunger for awesomely cute stuff being nowhere near sated quite yet. I spend some of my days writing about cute things in the guise of a bunny rabbit and slightly less time practicing my fake French accent as Monsieur Le Bun. Don’t go freelance – it might happen to you. I also love Minter’s new blog Vinyl Destination where he is cataloguing his extensive record collection in his usual personable way.[Marceline Smith]

Answer Me This / Tank Riot
I have been meaning to write a quick/short article about my favourite podcasts for a long time now but as ever I haven’t been able to find the time. To some degree podcasts save my life as I endure often up to four hours a day travelling to and from work and listening to these shows often keep me sane in the light of horrific circumstances on the trains. I could not decide between my two favourites so cheating I am mentioning them both. First is Answer Me This, a half hour comedy podcast from South London built on the basic premise of asking the hosts Helen and Olly questions based on all kinds of conceits ranging from curiosity to soughting advice (as I myself have done). The answers in reply are always sharp, funny and generally the best response you are likely to get from anywhere or anyone. Its much more fun that looking things up on Google or Wikipedia. They are somewhat representative and part of a lo-fi/DIY comedy scene that has been bubbling under the surface for the past four plus years which is now excitingly breaking through into mainstream media in a most sincere and non-commercial fashion.

Tank Riot is podcast from Madison, Wisconsin which takes an interesting subject and devotes an entire episode (usually tipping over the hour mark) to running through the history and background of it. I found originally discovered the show doing a search for Hunter S Thompson on iTunes and they have subsequently also done episodes on subjects ranging from Devo, Kurt Vonnegut Jr, Rod Sterling (Twilight Zone creator), Stanley Kubrick and alternative/new religions. Sometimes the episodes feel like they are reading the Wikipedia entry but their enthusiasm and humour towards the subjects with personal comments. Also off the back of my latest heartbreak I restarted JGRAM WORLD in March. [JGRAM}

Tweet Tweet

Posted: March 22nd, 2009, by Marceline Smith

So, you’re no doubt “hip” to the new thing that is Twitter – microblogging for the masses, social phenomenon etc. etc. Of course, us diskanteers have been on it for a while so I have added a handy list of links to our Twitter feeds over there on the left. We don’t have an official diskant Twitter because let’s face it, official Twitter feeds are hella boring, but instead you can keep up with us AS PEOPLE.

If you’re not on Twitter already then you’re missing out on knowing how Alex is getting on as a new resident of Texas, what Greg Kitten thought of the most recent episode of LOST and what technology I’ve broken today. Not to mention my real time updates of the daylight murder right outside my house. Awesome. It’s quality content like that which has made me the 14th most popular Twitterer in Glasgow.

Yeah, so come join us and you’ll get some extra free content throughout the day. I also heartily recommend the entertaining Twitterings of our blog friends Popjustice, Sweeping The Nation, I Like, and The Morning News.

Anyone else good we should be following? Leave a comment!

Plan B goes digital

Posted: February 3rd, 2009, by Marceline Smith

Plan B have just launched a digital version of their magazine, so if you can’t find Plan B round your way, have no room for piles of old magazines or just prefer reading stuff on the internets, then this is for you.

It costs £17.50 for unlimited access to a year’s worth of magazines, which you can read, print and download. There’s a free issue up just now to let you see how it works and it looks pretty cool to me, though my broadband provider aready hates me enough without adding to my bandwidth usage.

Have a look HERE.

Take note!

Posted: January 11th, 2009, by Marceline Smith

Or, some random stuff I have dredged out of my inbox/RSS reader/brain.

– Sometime diskant contributor Fraser Campbell‘s comedy sketch show The Magic Glue aired on Radio Scotland this weekend and you can have a listen on iPlayer for the next week by clicking that link. I’m guessing it’s their usual amusing mix of stuff about bams and neds but why not listen and find out.

Sweeping The Nation is looking for guest bloggers “to write a decent amount of words about a single album released during the Noughties, explaining why it’s so good and why everyone deserves to hear it”. On you go.

– Ben at Stereo Sanctity has finally finished writing about his top 30 records of 2008. It’s amazing to read such genuine enthusiasm about so many records I’ve never even heard of, and all from last year! It’s unlikely I listened to 30 new albums in the last 3 years, let alone had a paragraph’s worth of interesting thoughts about them. Go have a read, plus there’s MP3s too!

Postcrossing: Like bookcrossing but with postcards

Posted: December 24th, 2008, by Stan Tontas

This is a cute idea. Seems like the only things sent through the post now are bills, court summonses, junk mail and things that you’ve paid for. Postcrossing has the potential to turn picking up your mail back into a pleasure. The idea is that you send a postcard to an address randomly selected from their database. Then some random from elsewhere in the world posts one to you. Lots of potential for warm fuzzy niceness, or at least helping you to decorate a spare wall.

Not really the time of year to sign up to anything, especially since I sent precisely zero Xmas cards (“merry xmas diskanteers!” and all that), but I’m going to try it out in the new year and will let you know how it goes.

Some Christmas gifts for YOU

Posted: December 24th, 2008, by Marceline Smith

I hoped to have the albums and films of the year articles well on their way by now but the diskant writers are being as obscurist as ever and even my skills at massaging the votes is not getting us ten records that more than one person likes. Hmm. While I ponder a solution, please enjoy the following:

– A new set of columns from our past! I have just been scheduling up the first few columns by Dave Stockwell of Souvaris and Bologna Pony fame. The first one will be up on Boxing Day and then every Tuesday and Friday following until they’re finished. They mostly consist of exuberant record reviews but there’s also a cool Southern Lord special and of course, a hilarious review of the Metallica documentary. Enjoy!

Some links for you:

– Layla Gibbons disappeared off my radar after making excellent zines and records with Skinned Teen and Petty Crime, but she is apparently writing regularly for Maximum Rock’n’Roll (who knew THAT was still going?) and has all her columns available in blog form right here. Lots of good reading there.

– Layla is also still making zines and the latest issue of Chimps is available from Ooga Booga in Los Angeles. I’m guessing the postage might be a killer here but it’s v tempting. They also have a ton of cool zines, books, records and stuff on sale so have a browse.

– Via Popjustice, help Patrick Wolf raise some cash to self-release his new album on Bandstocks, or indeed give your money to Martin Carr or anyone else you like on there. Is this the new Myspace?

Merry Christmas!

Some things to read

Posted: December 9th, 2008, by Marceline Smith

Hi! I write you from my own personal shipping warehouse. It feels like I have done nothing but package orders and make stock and print labels and run to the post box for weeks now. If you’re still on the lookout for Christmas gifts then feel free to send your money my way. I’m at Asking For Trouble and Super Cute Kawaii!

Okay, advert over. This will all be over soon and I will schedule up some more columns for you to enjoy over Christmas. We’re also currently thinking up our top ten albums and films of the year for our annual except-when-BT-break-my internets features. I also have some interviews sitting here that should have gone up ages ago. While you wait for that, here’s a few interesting things to read instead.

Verbal Rocket is a new/old webzine, that is a new webzine of old interviews from the height of the zine scene. I read about 4 lines before having one of those ‘OH GOD remember Ikara Colt/Disco Pistol/Tampasm dear lord’ moments and having to stop. There is some great stuff here though – interviews with Trail of Dead, Fugazi, Sebadoh, Part Chimp and many more, plus photos and things. Go pretend it’s still 1998.

Sweeping The Nation is much more prepared than us and already counting down their Top 50 Albums of 2008 one at a time. Considering I’m struggling to think of ten records I’ve actually heard all the way through, I am more than impressed.

Alistair Fitchett is also being festively prolific with an advent calendar of his 25 favourite songs of the year. This I could probably manage, if I did one a month.

Um, there might have been more but I can’t remember now. Feel free to add your links to stuff we should be reading in the comments. Not if your idea of good reading is Cialis and Snuggle Blankets (WITH SLEEVES) though – I’ve heard enough.

“The robots develop their own musical culture. There are no pre-programmed musical rules.”

Posted: November 3rd, 2008, by Stan Tontas

New Scientist report on experiments with music & artificial intelligence. One robot “sings” a few notes to the other, which sings back. If the 1st robot thinks the songs are similar, they agree to remember the sequence.

The researcher hopes that this will lead to the robots helping “him to compose music that no human would ever come up with”. I am sceptical, not just because the attached video (Quicktime format, <1 minute) is pretty underwhelming.

If the robots choose the sounds which are the same, where is the scope for development? Can robots do improv? Or will this just lead to them adopting a fixed repertoire (which, to be fair would be pretty cool if they started from zero with regards to the robots making sounds)?

Surely the thing that would lead to new sounds would be the criteria that the robots use to reject or adopt a “song” – and here it seems to be “this is the same as what my mate sings”. That brings you a zillion indie bands, not “new musical cultures”. I get that there are “emergent” properties from simple systems (think fractals) but the way this story is described, these are being selected out of the robots. If the song isn’t sung back to you it’s discarded.

Poor bastards! Not even self-aware but still subject to merciless criticism by its only friend! Imagine a robot Jimi Hendrix. No-one singing your tunes back to you. Cursed to artistic isolation until musical tastes catch up to you. Singing unheard till your batteries run out or you break down through overwork in the face of an unappreciative world, found disassembled in a bath, OD’ing on acid and lithium…

Maybe the answers are in the full research paper.