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2010 catch-up: Singles & Songs

Posted: January 2nd, 2011, by Marceline Smith

Our favourite singles and songs of 2010.

Oriol – Spiral
Beauty! Gilles Peterson needs to sort out his playlists – this was hard to find after listening to his outstanding Worldwide show on Vienna’s FM4. This is a pretty daring four and a half minutes of tidy electro-funk. Wait for the sublime little breakdown; more of a collapse, tumbling down into glittering cement clouds. (Pascal Ansell)

Pet Shop Boys – 1986 Remixes
Despite the fact that Pet Shop Boys are still releasing great music, I can’t stop listening to these remixes. Taken from some dodgy megamix CD in their pre-fame Bobby O days, these versions are so bombastically 80s, they’ve come full circle and sound totally 2010. I guarantee this version of West End Girls would fill any dancefloor. Literally amazing. (Marceline Smith)

Even though the second Grinderman record was at times patchy the majestic Kitchenette was a wonderfully lumbering piece of nasty that served to both belittle the advances of a competitor while engineering equally willful and pathetically visceral gestures. As a swirling cacophony of driven distortion it lends an erratic and disorientating frame to proceedings as it was the lines “what’s the husband of yours ever given you, Oprah Winfrey on a plasma screen and a brood of jug-eared, bucktooth imbeciles, the ugliest kids I’ve ever seen” that suddenly captured me as I stood on a packed Central Line glaring at a battered family with a father figure who plainly had been something in his time but now only had a studded earring remaining from his rebellious era. Perhaps I’m just too bitter. Elsewhere I came really close to choosing Infinity Guitars by Sleigh Bells (Royal Trux done on an iPhone), Runaway by Kanye West (a celebration of misanthropy) or Rainbow In The Dark by Das Racist (an ethnic Beastie Boys via Kool Keith/Dr Octagon). (JGRAM)

Staff Benda Bilili – Poliomyelite
Memories of WOMAD festival and working on the Oxfam clothes stall. I whisked myself off to the main stage for a quick peep and was delighted by this moving song about polio, of which the band members suffer. (Pascal Ansell)


Posted: January 2nd, 2011, by Marceline Smith


2010 Catchup

Posted: January 1st, 2011, by Marceline Smith

Happy New Year, diskant readers! I know there are at least 5 of you out there.

2010 was a very quiet year for diskant – we’ve all been involved in other projects, from blogs, bands and labels to organising festivals and running our own businesses, not to mention jobs, kids and moving countries. You can always see what we’re up to individually by clicking those author links on the right sidebar.

However, we have made the effort to bring you a catch-up of all our favourite things from the last twelve months – our best albums will be up tomorrow, followed by books, films, zines, TV, gigs, events and more.

And we’re not planning on going anywhere – if you do enjoy diskant then make sure you subscribe to our RSS feed to get the latest posts whenever they appear.

Christmas Catch-up: Events & Places

Posted: January 2nd, 2010, by Marceline Smith

AC/DC at Wembley Stadium
Every song brought something new. They understand that watching a band with 90000 other people requires a lot of attention-getting so every 5 mins you were treated to something extra be it video screens, fireworks, a fucking great big train crashing through the stage and then being ridden by a 100ft high inflatable woman, Angus emerging in the middle of the crowd on a flashing podium etc etc etc. Absolutely value for money. (Chris Summerlin)

Ophibre; Nature; Hunted Creatures; Peace, Loving at Church (Boston, MA)
This was one of the best drone shows I went to all year. It was the first night of a monthly event at Church put on by The Whitehaus. Sadly, they didn’t keep it up for too long. It was great while it lasted though. Review. (Justin Snow)

Lightning Bolt at the Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Being at the front for the whole of their set was a personal achievement, one for grandkids I think. Breaking your phone pales into insignificance at such immensity – I got to speak to Brian Chippendale afterwards – lovely chap! Watch this space. (Pascal Ansell)

Spending three weeks travelling around Japan was amazing. I am in love with the place. The details are too many to go into, but it was endlessly fascinating, enjoyable, welcoming and intriguing. It’s one of those places where everybody says ‘Ooh, I’d love to go…’ and I’d urge everybody to actually do it. You won’t regret it. (Simon Minter)

You know, I don’t think I went to a single gig or festival this year. Finances and far too much work left me a bit of a hermit in 2009. I finally gave in to the reforming bands of my youth craze and have a ticket for the Yummy Fur in a few days, which I hope will be awesome, or at least awesomely nostalgic. So, my event of the year was going to Oban for my dad’s birthday in the summer. Family events are not supposed to be this much fun – we spent a week going on ferries and boats and miniature trains to tiny islands and ruined castles, seeing seals and puffins and otters and eating more cake than even I would think is necessary. Good times. Photos here, if you like THE SEA. (Marceline Smith)

Mark Eitzel, St. Giles Church, London, 7 October
I am Jack’s total lack of surprise at this hugely predictable number one. What’s remarkable is that I went into the church thinking this would be the show of the year, and it actually lived up to my own personal brain-hype. I have never seen a performer with the same intensity as Mark Eitzel. He lives every note of his songs, but he’s also wickedly funny and self-deprecating. And to see him accompanied on piano, on his knees in the aisle of a beautiful church singing ‘Johnny Mathis’ Feet’ was the best five minutes of music of 2009. (Stuart Fowkes)

We moved to Texas from Glasgow in February.  I feel like we only arrived last week.  Adjustment is slow but ongoing… er… y’all. (Alex McChesney)

4 weeks trotting around Europe
Finding out family history and couchsurfing. Visited the city I’ll be living in next year: Berlin!! You can find my every footstep in this blog hyaaa. (Pascal Ansell)

Lord & Karlheinz, Audrey Chen & ID M Theftable, Jajuno Trio at The Piano Factory (Boston, MA)
One of the many truly fantastic shows put on by Semata Productions at The Piano Factory. Lord & Karlheinz fucking destroyed the room with epic noise, Chen & Theftable were just batshit insane, and Jajuno Trio was about as minimal as you can get without copying Cage’s 4’33”. Review (Justin Snow)

Christmas Catch-up: Television

Posted: December 31st, 2009, by Marceline Smith

Harry Hill’s TV Burp
I can’t select Top Gear for the 10th year running so I’ll opt for Harry Hill’s TV Burp. Laugh out loud funny and genuinely one of the most subversive things on TV. The close-up shot of a pre-vomit Harry with a layer of sweat on his head watching the River Cottage guy cut up a squid in a bath almost put me in hospital. (Chris Summerlin)

Masterchef: The Professionals
Some kind of cookery show, most probably Masterchef: The Professionals, would have to be my choice. Can’t get enough of cookery shows, they fill my head with ideas of recipes and dishes which I will never make. Raymond’s final choice of winner on this year’s The Restaurant was totally wrong, though. (Simon Minter)

Curb Your Enthusiasm
Consistently shows Larry David to be the less repressed, more socially inept Me. Having had a fair bit of attention already on diskant, the latest season is pretty dark and the coincidences coincide too obviously, but this is still classic Curb. With women’s underwear, kiddie lemonade and piss stains on Jesus. (Pascal Ansell)

In the last six months I have managed to squeeze out all six seasons of Entourage and I really am in awe of the feel good affect that this show possesses. I guess I allowed the show to pass by me for six seasons due to the fact that for face value the characters are dicks and unlikable but once you get properly introduced to them (and the show) you suddenly realize that you are viewing the same kind of male team dynamic akin to that of Stand By Me, albeit a Hollywood version. There is a surprising amount of depth to this show and truly you begin to learn in great detail about the Hollywood system. Also in Jeremy Piven playing Ari Gold here is another antihero in the same vein as Malcolm Tucker, a character that any sensible reasoning dictates you should dislike but ultimately you secretly want to be like. (JGRAM)

Clearly, I have been on a JJ Abrams kick this year. S5 of LOST was AMAZING, managing to do time travel in a thrilling and hilarious manner while still making sense and building the mythology to the ultimate point of anticipation. The only thing stopping me from going insane waiting for the final season in February is that, well, it’s the final season and I don’t know what I’ll do without LOST. Fringe has become a reasonable stand-in though, becoming more preposterous by the week (alternate worlds! shapeshifters! Leonard Nimoy!) while John Noble as the mischievous mad scientist Walter Bishop steals every scene. Having been wallowing in Abrams’ previous series Alias recently, I worry that Fringe is going to topple into similar (entertaining) nonsense sometime soon, once they try and make sense of all the crazy cool stuff they’ve just been throwing at it, but we shall see. (Marceline Smith)

Christmas Catch-up: Fanzines & Magazines

Posted: December 31st, 2009, by Marceline Smith

Vice Magazine
The film issue of Vice Magazine in September was its best issue in years and served as a rare reminder of how it can be a very good read when it wants to be. Like a mug I paid the £35 for a subscription as issues in shops became rarer and rarer but I don’t think I’ll be renewing it when it runs out. (JGRAM)

Sight & Sound
It’s so densely written that each issue lasts for ages! (Simon Minter)

Classic & Sportscar
I got back into cars with a vengeance this year so I will have to select Classic & Sportscar. I like Classic Cars too but it’s a little dry and although Octane has some good photography the journalism reads like a GCSE project. C&S is still the best and when I want to while away several hours in the bath pondering whether an Alfa 1750GTV would suit me more than a Lancia Fulvia then I know where to turn. (Chris Summerlin)

Burn Collector #14 by Al Burian
I haven’t even read this yet (saving it for my train journey Up North this Christmas) but it’s printed as a tiny book and has extra comics so if it’s not awesome, I will eat my furry bear hat. (Marceline Smith)

Christmas Catch-up: Songs

Posted: December 30th, 2009, by Marceline Smith

Kid 606 – GQ on the EQ
Fantastic twiddling of them electronic nobs – this tune features pretty much one beat that never, ever wants to stay in one place. Cue one of the slickest, sweetest but messiest beats thinkable at 4.30. (Pascal Ansell)

The Knife – Heartbeats
A few years old I know but relevant this year for me (and La Roux too it would seem). I’m a sucker for pop music and especially pop music that uses bizarre composite parts to make a palatable whole and this perfectly sums that up. Every single sound on this single, when isolated, is horrible. From the “pom! pom!” drums to the cruddy synth to her whining vocals it should add up to a sizeable audio turd but instead it hangs together so perfectly and lumbers along so patiently as to warrant immediate replays. (Chris Summerlin)

Annie – I Don’t Like Your Band
Not the best song Annie has done, but it’s good that finally someone has managed to express those difficult emotions of going to see your mate’s new band and discovering they’re terrible. Though Annie’s advice of ditching those tedious guitars for a nice shiny synth is not without flaw – do we really need any more tedious synth bands? One to keep aside for your next passive-aggressive mixtape anyway. (Marceline Smith)

Andrew Douglas Rothbard – Wisely Wasted
Super lush electronic IDM psyche unlike anything else I’ve heard. I could listen to this song over and over again (and let’s face it, I have). The song as a whole is utterly fantastic but the point at about 3:30 where it stutters fucking blows my mind. Every time. (Justin Snow)

Fire by Jimi Hendrix then the Buff Medways then Lupe Fiasco
A few months ago I went through a weird phase where this song in various forms appeared to be following me around. First the original popped up in a pivotal moment in Entourage and with the appearance it blasted its way back into my consciousness. Next I came across a live version by the Buff Medways in the Billy Childish Is Dead documentary which I prompted hunted down on both seven inch studio version and a live XFM Buff Medways album. Then the strangest of all was a day or two later getting in my car to hear a bastardized version of the original on Zane Lowe’s Radio One show. Some rapper was now spitting all over the song and amazingly it didn’t sound awful. That was Lupe Fiasco. If you have never heard “Fire” by Hendrix where have you been? It is a wonderfully pounding and mesmerizing with heart stopping breaks and pauses before a pure swing shoots it off into the outer limits. If only all Hendrix songs had been as good as this. (JGRAM)

Goran Bregovic – Kalashnikov
Balkan madness. Just listen to it, listen to it, listen to it, NOW! (Pascal Ansell)

Rage Against The Machine – Killing In The Name
Having been comprehensively denounced by pals in the pub last night for not liking Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Killing In The Name’ [or whatever it’s actually called], it would have to be that song. Not because it’s my favourite, but because it’s my favourite use of a mediocre song in a bizarrely misguided herd-following load of cobblers that wasted a lot of everybody’s time at the end of this year. (Simon Minter)

Christmas Catch-up: Books

Posted: December 29th, 2009, by Marceline Smith

Mix tape by Thurston Moore
An interesting little investigation into the world of the home-recorded mixtape – a quick read perhaps, but a nice looking book with contributions from many interesting people. I like seeing what mixtapes the great and good from music and art have given to eachother, and how they’ve been packaged. Even your favourite supercool rock star has cut and pasted a crappy-looking tape cover together at some point in the past; you’re not the only one. (Simon Minter)

Hardcore – A Tribal History by Steven Blush
Honest and irreverent insight into a self-destructing scene and its glory years dating 1980-3. My prior knowledge of hardcore solely stemmed from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1,2,3 and 4. Blush done learned me. (Pascal Ansell)

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (Translated by Edith Bowman)
1000 initially daunting pages expertly given an accessible modern voice by Bowman.  I’ve still got a long way to go but the adventures of the man of la Mancha and his erstwhile squire are hugely entertaining to this day. (Alex McChesney)

The Death Of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave
No book this year proved as good as Bad Vibes by Luke Haines but that was my summer pick and I don’t want to repeat myself. The other book to leave a mark on me this year was unsurprisingly The Death Of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave. I don’t think I have ever seen a book get so much coverage in this way before and the manner in which it was presented to the public (hardback, seven disc atmospheric audiobook and iPhone application etc) really felt modern. The actual written content of the novel was OK, too self conscious but fun all the same. I’ve read Bukowski and in comparison Bunny Munro was almost a saint. The height of this book for me came when I attended a Q&A and reading hosted by David Peace and afterwards I managed to get Cave to sign my book who amongst other things told me that my old job sounded “fucking depressing.” It was a slice. (JGRAM)

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
Having got bored waiting for George RR Martin to finish the next Fire & Ice book, I found a bunch of these in a charity shop and dug in, not entirely aware that there were 11 books in the series and it wasn’t even finished yet. Or that Robert Jordan had died, leaving notes for someone else to finish it. I’ve found myself enjoying these far too much despite the growing realisation that he could have told the story in at least half the pages, if someone had edited out all the repetition and characters endlessly ruminating on NOTHING. I’m on Book 8 now and about 3 things have happened in 600 pages. It’s your typical ‘farmboy discovers he’s the chosen one and has to save the world from the dark one’ tale, but there’s enough unexpected and cool stuff going (and zero elves and dwarves) on that I keep at it. At the very least, buying a load of these at 1p each from Amazon has saved me a lot of money in proper books this year. (Marceline Smith)

Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
I got this as a gift for my wife. We both loved the movie Everything Is Illuminated (based on the book written by Foer) and when I saw this in a bookstore I thought we should give it a shot. I didn’t know it was one of those “Post 9/11” things. But it was. Is. If I had known that, I might not have bought it. But I got over that pretty quickly. The first two pages of this book are the best opening pages in any book I’ve ever read (read ’em on Amazon). It captures the essence of the book and the main character so fully and it’s absolutely hilarious. It starts on a high note, putting you in a good mood, so that by the time you get to the epically dismal parts you can handle it without turning into a sobbing little baby. What really makes this, though, is Foer’s writing style. His sense of humor and flow and control, even the physical spacing of text on the pages make Extremely Loud instantly one of my favorite books of all time. (Justin Snow)

Inspector Rebus series by Iain Rankin
I’m going to pick a series of books and that’s the Inspector Rebus series by Iain Rankin. I love me a good, easy to read detective novel and I’ve ploughed through about 9 of these in as many weeks. Rankin treads a line between trashy lightness and a genuine multi-layered complexity and it makes for addictive reading. His novels are heavy on characters and seemingly-unconnected plotlines and he reminds me of James Ellroy in that you could often use a character index to remind yourself who is who but it’s gripping stuff. It’s almost irrelevant whodunnit as the ride along the way is so pleasurable. (Chris Summerlin)

The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Incredible thriller from the late Swedish writer deserves the massive attention it gets. Dodgy financial dealings, sinister happenings plus lots and lots of cups of coffee. I miss reading this so much, mostly the little things: the main character’s routine: the constant coffee drinking, the open sandwiches and little walks. There are mind-blowing characters in this one – look out for the film next March! (Pascal Ansell)

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)

Christmas Catch-up: Gaming

Posted: December 27th, 2009, by Marceline Smith

Gridrunner Revolution (PC)
Jeff Minter’s last game “Space Giraffe” alienated as many players as it enchanted thanks to a steep initial difficulty curve and psychedelic visuals that took some time to become accustomed to.  Those who put in the effort found a rich and addictive re-invention of “Tempest”, but they were sadly too few in number.  At first glance, “Gridrunner Revolution” appears to be a step too far the in the other direction.  The latest in his “Gridrunner” series of abstract top-down shooters which dates back to the venerable Commodore Vic-20, all 200 levels of “Revolution” can be blasted through in a few hours by a skilled player, but that would be missing the point.  Playing the game to completion is one thing, but the point is to play it well, milking its complex scoring mechanic for all its worth.  It’s a pity then, that beyond beating your own score there was very little indication of what “well” actually meant.  Thankfully, a recent update has added online high-score tables, making it a different prospect indeed.  If you own a reasonably modern PC and like to see things explode in pretty colours, you owe it to yourself to get over to llamasoft.co.uk and buy a copy.  (Alex McChesney)

Scrabble DS
I am in the unfortunate situation of being part of a family who are really, annoyingly, good at Scrabble, whereas I am just adequate. Playing with them is pretty much torture as they play all those stupid Scrabble words and never open up the triple word score spaces. Thus I have been enjoying Scrabble DS for two reasons – 1) I can play against ‘Arnold’, a slab-faced blockhead who probably can’t spell his own name correctly and will happily leave a triple word score open for two rounds, and 2) there are no penalties for attempting to play non-words, which means I have discovered a whole plethora of new, stupid, unbelievable words (and their definitions!) by just randomly trying out combinations when stuck. I only gave up playing this when I unlocked the final character and discovered it was a living Scrabble tile with a worrying expression. No way was I playing against that. (Marceline Smith)

Dead Rising (Xbox)
Haven’t done much of it this year, but thoroughly enjoyed my time with  Dead Rising on the Xbox. Admittedly I’m a latecomer to it, but it’s DAWN OF THE DEAD THE VIDEO GAME. They should just have put a big sticker with that on it all over the front and it’d have sold more copies. You can mow down zombies with lawnmowers and chainsaws and giant lipstick cases, and it judges the shambling, stupid but inevitably crushing waves of zombies really well. (Stuart Fowkes)

Guitar Hero
Once more my computer gaming experience did not get much further than Guitar Hero, the victorious culmination of which came during the recent ATP and while The Mars Volta were playing in the background I found myself rocking out to “Sunshine Of Your Love” on the arcade version. (JGRAM)

Possibly that was my choice last year, too. (Simon Minter)

So simple. Only one key is used (space bar). The goal is to keep running as long as possible. You run on top of and through buildings while some giant alien robots chase you. It looks great, it sounds great. There really is nothing more to it. I can’t remember the last time I was so addicted to a game, let alone one played in a web browser. Just remember, you can always run farther. Link (Justin Snow)

Left For Dead
I am not one for computer games but the speed with which technology moves blew my mind earlier this year when up in Glasgow. After finishing a band practise, 2 of our troop parted with the words “I’ll speak to you in a bit” and I thought to myself, “wow, these guys are tight. They’re going to call each other up for a chat after practise!”. Nope. They meant they were going to strap on headsets and mics and blow living shit out of (quite racially suspect it has to be said) zombies in Left For Dead. Turns out most of the indie musicians in Scotland can be found doing the same after 11pm at night. Not for me though, I get motion sickness. (Chris Summerlin)