Album, Single and EP Reviews



  The Alternative With Chris Atwood Compilation by Various Artists

The Alternative With Chris Atwood Compilation cover art

Artist: Various Artists
Title: The Alternative With Chris Atwood Compilation
Catalogue Number: Russian Winter Records
Review Format: Compact Disc
Release Year: 2014

It’s another day and arriving with dawn’s early light is another curated compilation with this particular one being put into order by Chris Atwood. Given his zealous pursuit of the music of days gone by, it is no surprise that every song sounds like it could have been released at least twenty years ago. So it’s backwards, once more, into the time machine in search of the words.

Starting off with the ever purposeful James Stevenson, the polish and precision that he brings to the distinctly mainstream “Twilight Riders” illustrates the benefits of experience.  James Straight and The Wide Stance, on the other hand, excel at post punk untidiness with “Higher Elevation” even throwing in some crude social commentary to keep your brain active. The New Frustrations then confidently return to mid-west rock for their motivations and harmonies so “Biggest Lie” is, unsurprisingly, radio friendly.

Suzy Blu mines the deep vein of dark electro pop that runs, then and now, through the middle of the UK and obviously created “Well” out of the robotic beats that she unearthed. There’s a stylistic right turn ahead, however, as Ruby Rae takes the reverb and the rock and the roll applies it to “Deena Met The Devil” to make it melancholy. Workforce then return to the machine for “Body Sweat” and use it to spin up a positively reverential reflection on the joys of the electro powered dance floor.

A Fifth Column hint at admiration of things European and 4AD with their self-titled song and The Feel Bad Hit of Winter – there’s a fine name for a band -  seem to know that honesty is more important than originality and thus use “Smile” as an advertisement for their collective heart. Kevin Nolan’s “Splinter” takes a more reflective approach but the sentiments are much the same and Didn’t Planet attempt rockstar nihilism with “We’re Goin’ Nowhere” but instead cause something akin to a knowing smile instead.

This is a compilation so it is unlikely that everyone will like everything but, to these ears, Ruby Rae and Suzy Blu provide more than enough reasons to put your hand in your pocket.

Available from Bandcamp.
Review Date: August 9 2014