22 May 2016

Various Artists - Sweet Sounds Record Spring Sampler 2016

Now I have developed a good relationship with Sweet Sounds Records, not through blowing smoke up their collective arses, but by giving honest opinions on the releases that they have been unleashing on the world.  A few months ago, the North Carolina based label gave out a call to bands to submit songs for this sampler which they have released upon the massive through their Bandcamp page.  It is a mixture of familiar names and new acts which always makes the world interesting; now I am not going to put any streaming links (I'm not even sure that there is any to be honest), as I would like people to head over to the Bandcamp page and purchase the album - they are a small, independent label and these people are giving off the wall artists a platform to expose their talents to the world.  I will change my usual format, just to give each track its own mark (similar to what I did for 'You Heard It Here First: Rock Volume 1 - review cleverly linked here) and an overall mark for the album, you will also find a link to either a Facebook, Bandcamp, Soundcloud or webpage for each band by clicking the name and title of each song.  So, what is all the fuss about?  Well, let us investigate......

Track 01- Club! Chi! – Nu Nu

Starting this album off is Club! Chi! who bring a mixture of Captain Beefheart, The Flaming Lips and Butthole Surfers to proceedings.  Hailing from Nashville, TN, this four-piece start proceedings so far out of the box, you would probably be lost, even if you had a map.  It has a psychedelic rock vibe under the manic exterior and keeps the listener guessing where the hell it is going to land next, I have a feeling that the band share a similar view on their music and it is an explosion that just keeps on give.  4 out of five - This is really good, well worth checking out.

Track 02 – Ace Quaalude – I Want to Live in The 70’s

Ace Quaalude also come from Nashville, TN (I have a feeling they will focus on that scene for most of this release) and this is taken from their first ep 'AQ' which was released in January 2016.  It sounds like a dirtier version of Seadog and Sonic Youth decided to give the world a new dose of noise/goth rock, adding a dash of droning and doom undertones with the speed bomb for good measure.  A great introduction to the band, a group I want to investigate further.  4.5 out of five - This is really good, well worth checking out.

Track 03 – The Chewers – Dig The Pit (Live)

The Chewers need no introduction to regular readers of this blog, but just in case here is a brief recap.  The Chewers are another Nashville based act.  I have reviewed two of their releases and they are crazy cats, to say the least.  As I said on the review of 'Live at Exit/IN' (cleverly linked here) “Dig the Pit”  takes a little while to actually get started, this time the song is more of a strange train of thought that rambles on as if Armageddon is on its way and the nightmare is running on around the protagonist of the song.  It is the longest track of the album once more if you are looking for a relaxing time then this is not the song for you, but if you are looking for something that is not the perceived version of “normal” then I would truly recommend this song as a great example of how art and rock can still exist under one fucked up banner of bizarre. 5 out of five -
I wish I had extra ears to love this more.

Track 04 – ZVG – Turn Off the Screw

ZVG is one of the various moniker for one Mario Rossi from Boston, MA; this song is a mixture of Brad, Arctic Monkeys and the Halibuts.  It drifts between each of the groups and styles with a strange ease, as if it is as normal as turning the light off as you leave a room.  But it is a hard job to get these sort of musical changes to sound so fluid, but ZVG does this as if it is second and third nature to them.  It is a fantastic piece of music, beautiful, manic and a lil' crazy as well; what is there not to love on this one!  5 out of five - I wish I had extra ears to love this more.

Track 05 – droneroom – Etching of Patterns

Another Nashville based act, this time it is noise/drone act droneroom and it is taken from their release 'Trying to Remember What I Remember'.  Musically, this instrumental has a minstrel vibe as the guitar is slowly plucked and the tone drifts in the void.  It is not something that is singing to me if I am honest, I spent the song wondering when the distortion would have been hit; but I have also heard an awful lot worse.  2 out of five - Not bad, not good - so average it is Zen

Track 06 – Ladyshark – Monsters

Ladyshark are a female two piece from Nashville, musically they have a sound akin to the Cramps, the B-52's (not "Love Shack" era, back when they were good), Babies in Toyland, Sleater Kinney and the riot grrrl scene.  It is a raw, passionate, hard driving number; it has a groove that is so good that it is impossible to ignore. It is a song that gets into your veins, making you wants to jump around and has such a great energy!  Also, they have one of the best names I have heard this year, let alone on this compilation - fantastic track.  5 out of five - I wish I had extra ears to love this more.

Track 07 – Jared Dymbort – My Apricot Teenage Revival

Jared Dymbort is from Brooklyn in New York, he makes music for TV, radio, anything that you can think of really.  It is a DIY wild synth pop, akin to a chilled out Atom & His Package.  It is here and gone before you know it; I would have to listen to more of his music to make up my mind on his style.  But it is a decent enough, just gone before you can sink your teeth into it.  2.5 out of five - Not bad, not good - so average it is Zen.

Track 08 – Lawndry – Bigger Than Oasis

Another Nashville act, this time it is the bizarrely named Lawndry and their ode to the brother's Gallagher and how they are going to be bigger than the band that made them famous.  It is a shoegazing, indie pop anthem that sound more like the BMX Bandits and Gigolo Aunts than Oasis, but it certainly brings a smile to your face and it stays in your head for hours after you have first heard it; I really hope that they do become bigger than Oasis! 4 out of five - This is really good, well worth checking out.

Track 09 – Sheep Bella Tine – Clan Chattan

From Cookeville, TN, Sheep Bella Tine are an instrumental noise piece and the best way to describe them is that they sound like a strange out-take from the Frank Zappa album 'Civilization Phaze III', with that same level of fucked up, mental surrealism.  Not for the faint hearted and impossible to mark.  Crazy Cat Symbol - This is impossible to mark, here is a box full of cats.

Track 10 – Chibi – The Game

Now this is a little different for this album; Chibi is an electronica rapper who is based in Nashville, this was original released as a single on the Chibi Bandcamp in March 2016.  It is a strange song, a mixture of M.I.A. and Atlantic Ocean (1990's trance/Madchester act), it is also one that I find myself liking more with each listen.  It stands out on here, mainly because it is so different to the rest of the songs; but I love the fact that something so different is on her, it shows the diversity on what is on offer and that makes this song one of the best of this release.  4.5 out of five - This is really good, well worth checking out.

Track 11 – Deaf Ears – Untitled #2 (Sadly, no individual links for this band)

(As I have no link to a website and can find a few bands with this name, I decided to pick an alternative image; as I had the choice, I picked Batman as the wise proverb says - Always be yourself, unless you can be Batman.  Then, always be Batman).

Even Sweet Sounds Records themselves know where this band are from and how to find them!  This song has a homemade feeling, a strange mixture of alternative rock, trip hop, Sparkle Horse and a droning hip hop noise that rumbles on and ends a little too soon.  Would Deaf Ears please stand up and let us know where we can hear more?  3.5 out of five - Decent, getting there.

Track 12 – Splaishe – Breaking The Code

More noise from Nashville, this time it is more electronica and it is a harsh wall of sound that we are exposed to on "Breaking The Code".  It comes from the same sonic cloth that acts like Aphex Twin and Robert Logan have been clothing their dreams, it is an audio assault on the listener and one that does not always sit easy on you.  But because it is so confrontational, I find myself returning to it more and more.  It is a slow burner and one that I will probably want to give higher marks in years to come.  3.5 out of five - Decent, getting there.

Track 13 – Pelvis Lesly – Doofus

I think I can safely say that this is one of the oddest tracks I have heard in a while, I know I say this after the baffling noise of Sheep Bella Tine, but bear with me here.  Once more we have a band who are based in Nashville on the compilations, this time it is a strange mixture of droning indie, electronica and oriental over tones that mix into one of the strangest numbers on this record for me; it is a song that will be one that people either love or hate, personal I think it is great, if not a little strange. 4 out of five - This is really good, well worth checking out.

Track 14 – MPGexperts – FuckILogic

Hailing from a place called Franklin (no idea where in the world, there are a few places called Franklin in the USA and other places in the world) or even Nashville according to the MPGexperts Bandcamp page, MPGexperts are the brain child of Mike Good.  This song sounds like you are going through an old style radio and you are picking up different stations, each one of them playing a different song and contributing to a sprawling wall of sound that never settles on one style or contains a hook that likes the various rambling dreamscape that is coming out of the speakers.  It is a bizzaro song, something that will both confuse and enthral people in equal measure, from an artist with a vision that will make sense and bemuse in a way that will make the world a better place. 
Crazy Cat Symbol - This is impossible to mark, here is a box full of cats.

Track 15 – Momohaus – Nomad (Sadly no individual links for this band)

Ah, another band that has been featured before on ATTIWLTMOWOS.  Momohaus are another Nashville based project, this is taken off the album 'Love Sparkles' (review cleverly linked here).  What I said of the song at the time (and I still agree with) - “Nomad” an interesting tune, starting with a sound which mixes the buzz of crickets and helicopters, it feels like you are in the middle of the sun as the bass rumbles into your sound range every now and then before the heavier synth sounds come into play.  The song has a naturalist feeling engraved into the very core of the song on this one, which is a hard trick to do at times with electronica these days.  It is a great song on this album, one which moves from which such a linear progression that it is hard not to be impressed by the song and want to reach for the repeat button. 4.5 out of five - This is really good, well worth checking out.

Track 16 – Little Paws – Hit Me Better

Coming out of Nashville, TN, Little Paws bring a straight forward, alternative rock sound to this compilation, reminding of a pissed off version of the early 90's indie rock legends The Breeders and Sleater-Kinney.  The riff is an infectious one that sinks its hooks into you early on and does not let go from there.  It is another top draw song from this sampler, mixing old school alternative rock sensibilities with a fuzzy distortion, questioning lyrics and new pissed out attitude!  5 out of five - I wish I had extra ears to love this more.

Track 17 – Ian Taylor – Christmas Eve

This sampler is brought to an end by Ian Taylor who is from Cookeville TN, this sampler is ended with a harrowing acoustic rendition of the abuse that can sadly happen on any day, even on the supposed happiest time of the year.  It is not an easy song, the subject matter itself is not something you can put on and be comfortable with on in the background whilst relaxing.  But it is an intelligent and well-crafted song that ends this series of songs.  4 out of five - This is really good, well worth checking out.

Well, you cannot accuse Sweet Sounds Records of focusing on one genre of music!  The diversity on offer here is heart-warming (and a little bonkers in places) as it has given these artists a platform to be heard by people all over the world (myself, I am based in a place called Rosehill, just outside of Newcastle upon Tyne in the North East of England - a long way from where most of these bands currently create their noise).  It is also important to note that even if I did not get the music of some of these acts, it does not mean that their songs were not good (or even great songs); there will be someone out there who reads this, downloads the sampler and thinks I am talking shite about one of their favourite songs on here.  Please hit the link at the bottom and give the label a little something (if possible), underground acts need all the exposure they can get and this is a great set of bands.

8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

Top track - Ladyshark - Monsters

You can purchase the sampler (name your own price) from the Sweet Sounds Records Bandcamp here, each track has information of each band so you can follow their progress from there.

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