By: Chad Murray
Released on October 19, 2015 via Song By Toad
Trawling through the submission archives this compilation caught my eye. I’ve always been a big fan of Scottish music (as ignorant a statement to make as that is) I’m not sure what it is maybe it’s their distinctive vocals or the fact that I only really know a minority of great bands but, when the likes of Wozniak, The Amazing Snakeheads, The Twilight Sad, Biffy Clyro (ok so, not the later stuff it’s all drivel), The Jesus and Mary Chain and Mogwai are all operating from the same base I get the inclination to search that base for more.
First up is Lush Purr with ‘Rut’ and I’m instantly smitten. The crumbled layers of bassy distortion, the sweet-talking vocals. Nothing quite seems right yet, it all goes together perfectly. Imagine the muffled charm of The Beta Band with the staggered pop sensibilities of Beck and you have something that in essence conjures a feel for the track. It’s a track with a lot of drive despite feeling like it was made under a great deal of weight. Definitely a strong opener to the compilation.
Sean Armstrong’s ‘With the Shivering Trees’ is again a lo-fi downtrodden track although, this time it has more of a folk sound similar to the likes of Siskiyou, Deerhunter and Sparklehorse. The brevity of the track actually makes it really appealing to me in a similar manner to Deerhunter’s ‘Calvary Scars’ almost as though the artist is selecting the finest cuts of the track and cutting out any filler.
What a band name! Breakfast Muff rumble into the compilation with their expletive ridden song ‘Older Guy’. I really like the vocal layering in this track it’s somewhat reminiscent of the more aggressive tracks by The Moldy Peaches such as ‘Who’s Got The Crack?’ Where the fire behind the track is choked beneath the lo-fi sound creating a more accessible track in the process.
“You’re insufferable!” – Dune Witch Trails’ ‘Motorcade’ powers through with a great refrain and excellent indie-rock instrumentals with just the faintest sludgy hint of grunge added in for good measure.
If the best band name on this album goes to Breakfast Muff’s seedy sobriquet then, I’d argue the best track name is found on Alansmithee’s ‘The Almighty Alan Smithee Blues’. The bluesy waves of reverberated guitar and chimes of hi-hat accompany the assumed Alan Smithee as he croons through each verse in a vocal so relaxed it’s almost spoken word. The most dissonant moments in the track become almost jazz-like with stabs of guitar and deserty blues-rock solos flying through with a similarly suppressed aggression to the tracks seen elsewhere on this compilation. I can easily picture Alansmithee as a support for QOTSA, Yuck or the more recent Arctic Monkeys; the track makes for nice cruising music or background music for the final hours of a party.
‘Michael’ by Youngstrr Joey is a sludge jam with Zappa like surrealistic lyrics that almost seem to take the piss out of the lyrical centrism that is quite dominant these days. The track is pretty consistent and if you like you’ll love but, if you don’t it’ll probably seem repetitive.
A pretty mind melting guitar jam is ‘Late Late Late’, saddled with light airy vocals and a thumping drum beat, Spinning Coin’s axeman is given a minute and a half and basically just tears shit up for the duration, I imagine this’d be pretty cool to watch live.
How more intimate and dishevelled can you get than an artist called Chump featuring on a compilation with a track titled ‘Sleep In (Bedroom Demo)’? My initial reaction to this track is that it’s almost like Mazzy Star meets outsider music such as Daniel Johnston or Charles Manson that broken lo-fi sound, that candid honesty and personal touch. This is an absolute thing of beauty really. A clinomanic masterpiece with half-hearted guitar playing lyrics in which the singer is overwhelmed with apathy and arguably hopelessness. “I couldn’t give a fuck” – “I’d rather sleep all day”. I defy anyone to listen to this track and feel empathy. It’s excellent.
Somewhere between The Gun Club and The Wallflower’s cover of ‘I Started A Joke’ lies ‘Swamp Creature’ by Passion Pusher. The track is heavily distorted and delivered with blazed lethargy and a sludgy style that retains a pop sensibility that struts its melody like Buddy Holly if he was part of the sludgy stoner/desert-rock scene. One for the fairground at night or the early morning commute.
‘Delaydeez’ is a really nicely chilled track, as soon as it kicks off I picture the scene in Pulp Fiction where Vincent Vega is smacked up and cruising around in a haze. Andrew R. Burns and The Tropicanas have needless to say created a very pleasant almost lo-fi/ambient surf-track that slides and drips at the forefront whilst drums crash distantly in the background.
Psychic Soviets’ ‘I Become a Feminist’ kicks of nicely like a psychedelic WWF entrance theme with a thick warped riff that transmogrifies into a Hookworms-esque track albeit a bit lighter. These guys could do pretty nicely on the burgeoning modern psyche scene, although at times it feels a bit more retro like some of The Horrors earlier stuff, it’d be interesting to hear these guys with a bit more of a Hey Colossus vibe. Definitely ones to watch for the psyche crowd.
‘Don’t Be an Asshole’ by Joyce Delaney is a pretty enjoyable folky piece, I like the vocals and the lyrics but, I have to say that guitar sounds fucked up. It’s nicely reflexive but, this track perks my interest more than anything. I’d like to hear the character of this track but, in more carefully orchestrated music with denser more considered arrangement. I know I’m being an asshole and was explicitly cautioned via the decoding of song but, I think this is an example for potential rather than actualisation.
Wendell Borton’s ‘Saucy’ is a ballsy rock track screamed that sounds like it’s being screamed through the PA system at a football stadium. I’d say it’s short and sweet but, it’s not sweet, it just burns out nicely before it fades away.
Quite an eclectic drumming pattern kicks off ‘The Rat’, it’s a strange track with influences that seem to lie somewhere between latin music and dream-pop. Froth do a good job of creating a sound that almost reflects the lyrics “you make me sick, you make me sick!” with washy guitar tones and complex rhythms that attack the senses beneath the deeply reverberated vocals. Don’t let that put you off though, rollercoasters, ice cream and flying saucers make people sick but, they’re still very enjoyable.
‘It’s OK, You’re Fine’ opens with some brilliant guitar work and muffled vocals, it really stands out to me as one of the finer tracks as the compilation though in character it’s a perfect fit amongst the rest. As simple as it is Dearness have got something really endearing here…pardon that shit pun. It’s almost like The Strokes if they had nothing rather than everything when they started. Although, that is pure speculation, The Strokes kicked to the curb is a pretty accurate summary of the sound.
It’s nice that this compilation closes with a track called ‘Stopped & Stared’, I feel as though I myself have essentially just walked round a festival in Scotland and listened to one song from each band and of course some I’ll follow up on and some I’m hoping the readers will instead. Pennycress, in my opinion, has a very easy on the ears sound that I associate with adverts and tv spots, I don’t intend for that to be an indictment in anyway but, as someone mostly drawn to weird shit, I feel as though this is a bit too much into the Indie bracket for my liking. Although, I imagine fans of bands like Bombay Bicycle Club et al will really enjoy this, I just don’t feel like it crashes its tendrils quite through the outer walls of my skull.
On the whole this is a great compilation with a consistent sound and some really promising tracks, personally I would’ve called it David Cameron Is An Eton Mess though. I hope all of the bands continue to play and develop and find new success going forward.
Favourite Track: Sleep In (Bedroom Demo) by Chump