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Various Artists | Shake Yer Popboomerang 2 (Popboomerang)
The latest sampler from ascendant Australian label Popboomerang offers up twenty-three slices of mostly unknown (at least to these ears) home-grown guitar pop acts. There are a couple of more recognisable names here too, most obviously Sneeze, whose Nic Dalton and Tom Morgan are probably best remembered for their Lemonheads affiliation a decade or so ago, and Even who also almost made a breakthrough a few years back. Completists will want their previously unreleased contributions which are both fine but aren't really close to the best that either band are capable of. Fortunately most of the relative newcomers here give it their best shot and, whilst the quality is variable, there are plenty of appealing contributions.
Her Majesty's Finest titular contribution is a winning fuzz-pop delight featuring guest vocals from Go Betsy's Kate Duncan, a band also featured in their own right later on. The Sound Platform, again utilising a guest vocalist, this time Sasha Bell (The Essex Green, The Ladybug Transistor, Finishing School) - whose voice here is a little reminiscent of Natalie Merchant's -  offer Summer Something, an elegantly ambitious slice of jangle pop embellished with a fine coda from brass section, The Rhinestone Horns. Tamas Wells' We'd Play You At Checkers is sad and beautiful, simple as that.  The Mome Raths, like several of the acts, making their commercial debut here, offer a cracking slice of contemporised '60s influenced power pop.  Ones to watch undoubtedly and, as they seem to be based in London, that might be a more realistic prospect. The Zebras economically arranged pop nugget Cunningham, a tribute to a little known band of the same name is hard to fault, so I won't. The Hovercraft's For The Love & The Sound will justifiably have Ben Folds Five fans going weak at the knees. Of the remainder, The Tranquillizers, Prettymess, Peabody, Shifter and Go Betsy efforts are all good too.  
'Shake Yer Popboomerang 2'  certainly has its moments and, in terms of sheer quantity, it represents good value. But a more discerning approach on the quality control front and consequently a few less tracks would have produced a more enticing end product. Reservations aside though, the album has introduced me to a few acts I'll be looking out for in the future which is probably as much as any sampler could realistically hope to achieve.

Geraint Jones
July 2004