Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Review - Various - Elevate: 21 Pop And Indie Gems From The Underground

Various - Elevate: 21 Pop And Indie Gems From The Underground

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7 out of 10

There are at least two reasons why this compilation should be a good listen. One: I like label compilations for some geeky reason that I haven't fathomed yet. Two: Whimsical is an indie label from Edinburgh and Scotland have got an impressive track record with this kind of stuff over the past ten, twenty years. It's by no means a flawless collection, it would be hard for most labels to put together 21 songs and for the listener to like all of them, but label founder Ewan McKenzie has an exciting roster here of indie and folk from all over the country (And NYC), largely influenced by classic rock and pop.

Whimsical's first ever signing The Harmonic Storm, for example, are what happens when you copy early Beatles and early Dylan at the same time. Or Lemanis, whose drifting 'Laughing, Smiling, Joking' is what grunge would have sounded like had it been invented by Brian Wilson and not grimy men in plaid. Joe Viglione's jerky NYC no wave falls in between the Ramones and Sonic Youth, while Subconscious and Emporium (Two ex-Subconscious members) are Edinburgh's answer to the Super Furry Animals but applying their own voice to playful, trippy, magpie pop.

There are some genuine originals here too, such as The Idea's daft psychedelic journeys with Casio keyboards and the angsty folk of Karle Odegaard. 'The Sad Thing Is It Is Sad At All' collides two very different worlds to dazzling effect, the gritty Wild West and the exotica of the Middle East. The undeniable stars, however, are New York's fun(ky) experimentalists the Westport Sunrise Sessions, with their weird clanging beats, falsetto harmonies and old school MCing. It's TV On The Radio with no David Sitek production and no money.

Most likely for success though are gloomy, Editor's style post-punks Jack Butler and Alfie Kingston's piano driven soft rock in the mould of The Fray. They might not be the two most original artists on 'Elevate.', but any success for Whimsical would be well deserved.


1. The Idea - Hello
2. Sunshine Variety Club - The Girl With The Crooked Smile
3. Day 44 - Harold's Bad Trip
4. Jack Butler - W. Fire
5. Guy & Vivienne - After The Rain
6. Row Z - Chloe
7. Lemanis - Laughing, Smiling, Joking
8. The Harmonic Storm - Daddy's Little Princess
9. Emporium - Dice Man
10. Adam Tedder - Eastern Girls
11. Karle Odegaard - The Sad Thing Is It Is Not Sad At All
12. Westport Sunrise Sessions - The Prize
13. Big Life Desire - She's Got It All
14. Joe Viglione - There's Nothing Like A Hit
15. Subconscious - On The Streets
16. Alan Burge - Saturday
17. Alfie Kingston - I Will Wait
18. Balloon Man - Unlucky Ones
19. Big Life Desire - In Pieces
20. The Mandrakes - We Will Fail
21. Emporium - Elevate

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