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Various Artists | Sunset:False (Slow Noir)
There is nothing better than receiving a compilation filled with bands you don't know but who all, in their own individual way, offer something original and refreshing. It is as if someone has done you a huge favour by filtering out all the rubbish to leave you a handy collection of your New Favourite Bands.
On 'Sunset:False', delivered by Bologna's Slow Noir Records, it would be no hard task to list at least one good point about each of the fifteen tracks. Limited only by space, I shall pick out every third track instead: [editor's customary interjection: Whilst Chris' approach is novel and space-aware, I think it only right to mention that this album includes the first new song from London three-piece Arco in a long, long while - the song is called Waiting - plus other 'unknowns' like Lambchop's Deanna Varagona and Paul Austin's Transmissionary Six. I feel better now].
Anamude is Ana Hortillosa, a San Franciscan 4-track fan. On New Leaves, her frighteningly uncomfortably voice sits on quiet and almost inconsequential guitar and accordion to create a sparse but effective opener.
Baptiste was the brainchild of Wayne Gooderham, releasing one album before splitting in February. Their demo contribution, Postcards, is a simple song with shades of Mojave 3, although Wayne's voice dispels any real comparison because of its sinister, vengeful tone.
It is no surprise that Harper Lee's Keris Howard has previously played with Trembling Blue Stars or that the band have recently joined Wratten & Co to tour Europe. The duo possesses traits of TBS and Field Mice â?? sad lyrics delivered by an honest voice, backed by ambitious drums to create a dreamy atmosphere.
Boston's Magic 12 contribute Disconnected, a track built around acoustic strumming so simple any novice could be emulating the song in a matter of hours. With Radiohead-style lead guitar and frontman Toby Ingalls' long-distance-phone-call vocals, it leaves an uneasy feeling lingering.
Finally, Saint Joan's Electric Light Shine On is a brooding melody touched by PJ Harvey's cool. A process of post-rocking-up simple folk songs is an intriguing one and leads to a distinctive and captivating listen.
The label plan to bring "the best atmospheric and melancholic alternative rock and electronica" acts to the world's attention in the future. With such an impressive debut release, they look certain to do exactly that.
CWAS #13 - Autumn 2003