Archive for the ‘Dianas’ Category

Noiseweek: New Order, Kathleen Hanna, Chelsea Wolfe, KEN mode and more

Sunday, June 7th, 2015

The sights, sounds and words of the week in noise.


Believe In A Land Of Love: New Order’s Low-Life 30 Years On | The Quietus

“Even as New Order were gearing up for a new phase in their career, the shadow cast by Joy Division still loomed large on the cultural landscape. Indeed, the bleakness of post-industrial Manchester that informed Joy Division’s music soon spread across the UK like a black, ominous cloud thanks to Margaret Thatcher’s administration. 1985 proved to be a watershed year. March 3rd saw the end of the year-long miners’ strike. The bitterest of British industrial disputes, the strike had seen communities torn apart and the increased levels of violence accompanying the dispute were broadcast with a sickening level of regularity on the TV news. Later in the year, both the Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham and Toxteth in Liverpool were engulfed in terrifying riots. Sandwiched in between on May 29 was the Heysel Stadium disaster that saw 39 people crushed to death following crowd violence – an event that was broadcast live on national television and beamed into homes across the world. More than any other year, 1985 can be seen as the year that the lid was finally closed on the coffin of the optimism and liberalism that had been born in the 1960s. But not only that, the Conservative party jettisoned the idea of one-nation conservatism in favour of competition that led Thatcher to eventually declare that “…there is no such thing as society.””

I interviewed Mark Kozelek. He called me a ‘bitch’ on stage | The Guardian

“But in this life, Kozelek trades in sucker-punches. He impugns online “bitching and whining”, but hides behind one-way email exchanges, balks at the idea of his peers speaking about him and issues tirades (and sometimes, sexual advances) from the cowardly remove of the stage, with the get-out clause that it’s a performance. He can use sexually violent language to reduce female critics to the status of groupies, knowing that while male musicians’ misogynist acts are examined for nuance and defended as traits of “difficult” artists, women and those who call them out are treated as hysterics who don’t understand art. “The world don’t owe us shit, I learned that real fuckin’ young,” he sings on Universal Themes’ Little Rascals. If anything remains to separate Kozelek from his work, it’s that his music preaches that the least we owe one another is decency.”

Feeling Myself: Kathleen Hanna Get Back to Work | Pitchfork

“At the end of the Julie Ruin’s recent set at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound, frontwoman Kathleen Hanna makes for the wings, as if she’s about to let the rest of the band play out the final minutes. It seems like a strange end to her first performance on the continent in a decade, but it’s a feint: She suddenly turns, cartwheels back into the center of the stage, and lands in a perfect split. Within a few hours, a GIF of the moment is circulating online.
Not only is Hanna 46 years old (who among us can truly say they’ve ever been able to do that?), but this time last year, she was in bed, struck down again by a side-effect of Lyme disease. She’s been battling the chronic illness for years—her struggle can be seen up-close in the candid 2013 documentary The Punk Singer—and that latest relapse forced her to cancel what would have been the Julie Ruin’s debut European dates. “There was a period where I could barely do anything except paint watercolors in my journal,” she told me over the phone two weeks before the festival.”


Chelsea Wolfe — Carrion Flowers

Our second taste of Chelsea Wolfe’s forthcoming record is perhaps her most ominous effort to date, replete with a menacing, digitized beat like something out of a disaster film’s trailer. Carrion Flowers is one of several tracks to feature Russian Circles’ Mike Sullivan on guitars, returning the favour from Wolfe’s guest vocal appearance on the closing track of Russian Circles’ Memorial. But here, Sullivan’s trademarks are all dialled back — instead, his guitar is barely distinguishable, woven seamlessly into the simple bit foreboding rhythms that dominate the track. Expect this to be a top contender for album of the year.

KEN mode — I Just Liked Fire

The final preview from Success is KEN mode’s most tributary. Between the rapid-fire industrial guitars, Jesse Matthewson’s rabid bile-spitting and the song’s relentless speed, the Canadian trio are more than comfortable exposing their Jesus Lizard influence, but they do it almost better than anyone else (because, let’s face it, about 90% of noise rock bands are trying to write Shot).

Failure — Mulholland Drive

Failure have a tremendous task ahead of them with The Heart is a Monster, their first album in almost two decades. 1996’s Fantastic Planet was almost perfect, and I’d argue that its final five tracks make up possibly the best 25 minutes of music released in the 1990s. Tracks like Mullholland Drive and the previously released Hot Traveler are interesting, but leave me unconvinced — is it worth diluting a tremendous albeit obscure legacy with a comeback record that’s just OK? Then again, Failure have always been an album band, best enjoyed in large doses; Frogs and Macaque and Blank work so much better when placed in the ebb and flow of a 40-minute collection. Mulholland Drive retreads that familiar Failure territory of low-key balladry that’s steadily transforms with powerful guitars, staccato piano chords, unexpected melodic turns and distant atmospheres. And it’s good, but is it good enough?


Chill out with a 20-minute studio set from dream-pop trio Dianas on the latest installment of RTRFM’s The View From Here.

Singles Bar #13: Western Steez

Friday, October 12th, 2012

optional title: Diana’s Taco nope

Taco Leg– “Raiders” (from self titled LP, due 10/23/2012)

VICE-approved best/worst band in the universe TACO LEG are putting an LP out through Fan Death on the 23rd of this month. About time. I can tell you right out of the gate that I am biased here, Jimbo; Taco Leg opened my head in a few ways when I first started seeing shows, namely: do not demur on the power of the riff– charisma is the highest law– quit practicing scales unless you have a bloody reason to. The first time I ever heard of them was when a friend of mine went to what was supposedly a No Age secret show at 208s yonks ago when, I guess, No Age were (still) a Thing; he described them as “the worst shit” ever. I was curious, and three years on, I’ll never be able to even hear the word ‘taco’ without thinking of my buddy Dan yelling the lyrics to “Raiders” at any opportunity he got over the summer of ’11/12. Any opportunity. The summer was long. Here are those lyrics in full:

saw the ball it was coming
left my whip under the door  (repeat verse)

raiders of the lost ark x4

i fell into a pit of snakes
i fell into it with my mate  (repeat verse)

raiders of the lost ark x4

There have many songs about films, and there’s the good, the bad and the ugly (UH HUH… YEEH). “Raiders” may well be the finest ever written. I remember Andrew Murray once telling me Taco Leg were a joke band, but they’re a band telling jokes. Not in this or this fashion, but using the joke as reality’s greatest source of truth/wrecking ball. I mean, after hearing a song like this, it’s impossible to take something like, say, an Indiana Jones Convention seriously, or, really, any kind of blind devotion to anything ever. See those words up there? That’s the complete reality of the film. That’s it. Stuff happens that seems kinda traumatic, but it’s just Raiders Of The Lost Ark. What happens to Indy? Who cares! “Raiders” is in and out in ninety seconds, and so is the feeling of actual thrill from the film, of whatever immediate impact all that visceral jumping and rocks and whatever had on you. It’s cool! Whatever! What’s next! This song decimates a cultural icon responsible for more hamfisted prepubscent hero-worship than a thousand Metallica albums into constituent parts as bizarre as they are enjoyable. This is what Taco Leg is telling us; under anything sacred lies a joke. Punk as fuck probably, but also Fan-Death indeed. The most crucial component of DIY is, of course, not the Do-ing or the It — it is the Yourself, and Taco Leg have Yourselfness in spades. There’s only one Taco Leg, and they are doing us a favour by being Taco Leg on wax. The best jokes aren’t only fun, but they are the ones that don’t end with the boundaries of the punchline; they unspool upon impact and leave a stain on everything else around. If Taco Leg are a ‘joke’ band, it’s only by virtue of how well they do that.

The Dianas– “Washed Up“I’ve spent about a week trying and failing to talk about what this song is, so this is me throwing in the word-towel

That soundcloud ticker isn’t lying to you; this song is nine months old, but that just makes this piece nine months overdue, I guess. The first Dianas gig (as far as I’m aware, fact-checker) was with Bermuda, who don’t appear to exist anymore and I believe ceased to be fairly sharpish after that gig. I think. If that’s true, it was an appropriate passing of the torch. Where Bermuda gambolled out garage guitar jams/gems that mashed glorious laziness with lazy glory, Dianas take the beat-pop template and layer it thick with indecision, depth and darkness (I swear I heard lyrics about stuffing someone into a car boot [but maybe not]) In any case, first off (word up) you don’t name yourself after a goddess for nothing, much less the goddess of women in general; what fascinates me about “Washed Up” (aside from the fact that it’s a great song) is that it feels like garage pop that is entirely and completely female. I feel very much like I’m in obvious but difficult territory here, though so I’ll continue

Firstly, I should frame what I mean by ‘female.’ I mean, you could throw any number of Iron Maiden/anything metal at that term ‘male’, but in terms of pop music, I’d say things can be gendered in two ways. Either explicitly, through stuff like visual and lyrical signification in which the gender of the audience is chosen (girl groups/boy groups etc.)- that is to say in a direction where gender arises from the manner in which it is responded to- or through the manner in which the music and lyrics reflect a grappling or challenge with the sexuality/gender of the musicians etc. In this sense, the first three Elvis Costello albums might be the most ‘male’ records I can think of; every song unambiguously deals with some aspect of male insecurity, with music that comments and expands upon the ideas in the lyrics — the amount of musical puns about premature ejaculation therein is pretty ridiculous. So, when I say ‘female’, I mean concerned (not exclusively, but continuously in an underpinning, cohesive way) with the perspective that arises from being a woman. Yep? Yep– and “Washed Up” exhibits this in ways I’ll come to in a moment

To just run towards the point by way of comparison w/ other female garage bands; like, say, Best Coast isn’t anything but cats and weed, but the Vivian Girls are grappling with things, and sometimes subverting things pretty niftily. But reeling off woman vs woman is lazy thinking and worse writing to start with anyway (Natasha Khan isn’t Kate Bush with a horse fetish etc.). I mean sounds are sounds, but beneath and on top of the WIPEOUT rolls and the tremolo trembling of the surf guitar and those thick harmonies, Dianas have an entirely different stance, one that isn’t filtered through the Vivs’ conceptions of 60s girl group dynamics and roles or through a thick haze of weed smoke. So, yep; Dianas have signifiers in terms of sound and structure– garage music after all is a lineage of the repetition of a single idea/motif/sneer in different iterations until it begins to take on mythical properties, at which point you hit the crash and quit the tape at about ~2:34– but there’s something distinctive about the way they go about using these elements– that’s the thing- it’s not indebted to anything, exactly– I can’t remember any other time I walked out of a gig without mentally filing a band somewhere as opposed to just wishing the thing had gone longer as I did with Dianas. Indebted to nothing but themselves, of course–

Considering I am trying to speak meaningfully about gender and guitar jams — I feel ice drift beneath me as I try to – it feels useful to me to see “Washed Up” as a counterpoint to “Wrapped Up” by Eddy Current Suppression Ring. There are some sorta-present musical and lyrical similarities (this isn’t me calling anything on that though — if you scratch the surface of anything with three instruments etc– I do not care man– play the progression from fucking La Bamba just give me something to sink my teeth into) (anyway), but they remain completely different animals. Consider first the brute, direct information that the ECSR song is, all coiled excitement and thick Asheton-on-a-practice-amp guitar slash. “I’m wrapped up/in you!” Exactly. ECSR is all wound-up energy and pursuit, springing (anxiously but springing) towards a result. “Washed Up” gives little away readily– those verses are an incomprehensible fog like the best Black Tambourine songs- except the chorus hits with
There’s a yawning gap (not an absence but a drop, a movement) at the bottom of this song. To be trite, it’s something I can’t access completely, and I think it’s because I’m a dude, the same way my mind still explodes into a million pieces of dumbfounded unknowing joy whenever I sit down and listen to any of these. It’s different, and I am not at the point of understanding why yet. Could a man have written something quite likeAll I Want” or To The Lighthouse or- naaaaaah. Craft always comes down to tools, and the tools are different (as explained in front of a live studio audience natch), so the craft must take a different shape. Heck, even consider the names of these bands; ECSR can wallow in sorta Dada sorta Ramones (Brendan Suppression) nonsense and wail directly about needs (that are probably being satisfied anyway) while stumbling into the wide, messy halls of Fun. Dianas are speaking for a feeling of loss and imbalance in a different language. Am I getting somewhere? I doubt it– Back to my comparison; even the difference in guitar solo is telling, with Mikey Young just kinda spraying some guts around for da boiz while Caitlin Moloney (I remember it being her playing the solo when I saw it live so if it wasn’t soz) plays something that peeks, trips and climbs– more an act of fathoming than an exclamation point, a series of notes that play around with the idea of giving either an easy, cadential answer or a confident grin and chooses neither. And therein. By the time that it rolls out and goes away, “Washed Up” has become uncertainly certain and holy in a way ECSR can’t be — “Wrapped Up” is too sure of itself, too here for a good time to be anything more than a good time. Duh, you say. So do I, of course. When Dianas start to holler and cymbal during that final chorus, it feels like one has traced one’s finger once round the full length of a Mobius band– at once you understand what just happened (you are where you began i.e. everything has gone quiet) but not quite sure how you landed in there or what happened in between– my advice is to play it over and over again until you come to something