First I have to admit that I was predisposed to enjoy this compilation, even before I listened to it as I noticed quite a few of my favourite bands in the track listing – people like Phil Wilson (of June Brides fame – one of the best bands ever), Simon Bish / aka Simon Goalpost (who ran the wonderful Pop Noise label, which is sadly missed), A Fine Day For Sailing & Banana And Louie (both bands which feature the amazing talents of a one, Matthew Stead, an highly undervalued Pop genius), Andy Botterill / aka Andy B (head honcho at the Pastime Records Label and a man with great taste and a member of many bands, like National Pastime and Falling Trees to cite a few), Bright Lights Big Zombie (one of my favourite bands of the past few years), National Pastime, Falling Trees and The Morrisons (all bands who have released some amazing albums in recent times). But just having a solid line up doesn’t always make for a great compilation, you still need to have the tunes and this disc really delivers, with some of the finest music being released today. I’ll try to share a few thoughts on the songs and as usual name drop some other artists when the music so inspires me.
Catherine And The Owl are a band that I know very little about and I find their sound warm and appealing as well as bit dark underneath and a great opener to the CD. Simon Goalpost follows and how can you go wrong with a tunesmith of the highest order, always a joy to listen to. It keeps getting better with Phil Wilson up next, who not only is one of the nicest people but also a genius and a legend in POP music – it’s nice to have him back – Long live The June Brides! And I hope they have a new album in the works after listening to their latest single. Banana And Louie serve up some beautiful pastoral pop of the finest pedigree, reminding me of The Beach Boys (a bit obvious since they are named after Brian Wilson’s dogs), The Ladybug Transistor, The Lochness Mouse, The Pearlfishers and maybe some Pastels thrown in the mix – you get the picture (their recent album is absolute must for any Pop fan). Mozura is a new band to my ears and I love the groove and the swagger of this tune and really should search out some more.
National Pastime are a band I’ve already written about often and I really love their sound and especially the vocals which fill the songs with so much passion and emotion. Another new band to me is Raining Globe and I love the guitar intro and at times they remind me of Snow Patrol at their finest moments. The Morrisons present some more perfect Pop which at times reminds me of The Undertones (especially when he says “By Your Side …”), and what better compliment can you give someone. Secrets For September provide a dreamy backdrop that complement the vocals and the theme of the song and a joy to listen to. Bright Lights Big Zombie, as mentioned are already favourite and easily one of the best new band I’ve heard in a long time – this is a brilliant tune from a stunning album (which you can read more about here – http://thebeautifulmusic.com/?p=1250 ).
I have also been a fan of Andy B (aka Botterill) since the early days when he and Simon Bish sent me several TVP covers with the various bands they played with and his productivity and quality of tunes continues to improve and impress. This compilation speaks volumes on his impeccable taste and an ear for a great tune. The much missed A Fine Day For Sailing was the band Matthew Stead was in before forming Banana & Louie and you can’t go wrong with any of their releases if you’re a Pop fan and if you have not heard their last 7” single with the “Smith’s Song”, you’re really missing out on some timeless pop and a collector’s item that will likely sell for a small fortune in the near future. Talking about Pop geniuses, leads me to the one and only Simon Bish, a former member of Peel favourite Thrilled Skinny and owner of the wonderful Pop Noise empire and member of countless bands (and also to be featured on TVP tribute 4) is a real treasure and it will be well worth your while to check out his solo work if you enjoy Teenage Fanclub, Ride, Big Star, The Orchids or that era of Creation/Sarah Records sound.
The Falling Trees are up next with “Things To Look Forward To” and the title says it all as I always look forward to something new by this very talented band (I really enjoyed their last album “The Memories That Hold Us Together” and a new recording by them is just out, which is amazing and captures them in a live setting) – I love the vocals with so much passion and emotion, reminding me in some ways of Adrian Borland although not really sounding like him, it’s just the feeling that is poured into the songs. Fonda follows with more classic pop with jangling guitars, a touch of feedback and a great groove and tune to match – I don’t know much about them but I do know I’d like to hear more. The Akibas are another band that is new to my ears and I’m enjoying what I’m hearing with those rich vocals and a warm sound as they sing about deceipt and lies. Now don’t be scared off by The Coffin Collectors, as they are not a goth band and the music is not dark and gloomy, but rather joyous as here they present their wonderful love song to the red haired girl. Count To Fire’s “Falling In Line” is a beautiful laid back number with some jazzy piano and some hints of Americana in the vein of Lambchop or Willard Grant Conspiracy.
The final song by Console is a real treat – Wow! I love this song – it’s like Ceremony era New Order doing one of the Cure’s best songs from their early days, with hints of Joy Division, The Sound and in more recent years St. Deluxe. It has an amazing instrumental start and even without the singing I was hooked so when it builds (ooh and how it builds!) and the vocals enter, it makes for essential listening – you must hear this song. This is the first song I’ve heard by Console but I really want to hear their first album and their follow up, which I have been told was never released as they morphed into Bright Lights Big Zombie. That is a shame and an injustice that I’m sure will be rectified at some point. For now put this song on repeat and enjoy!
All things considered, you can’t go wrong with this collection and I’m sure you will find a few new gems to treasure!