Barbara Ann

Various Artists
Ultimate Indie Hooks Compilation Volume 1

Winging its way over from France and showcasing talent from all over the place, the first instalment of the Ultimate Indie Hooks Compilation is a varied creature. It has alternating genres sitting side by side like a 1980s school dinner table (girl, boy, girl, boy…you get the gist).

With some chirpy piano chiming over the rocking chords of Foggy Bottom’s ‘For My Sister’, the title of this compilation seems justified before we’ve even reached the melodic verse and anthemic chorus. But this is only the first track so let’s reserve our judgement for the time being!

Ely are next up with ‘In Motion’, which has a rich blend of Kaiser Chiefs vocals mixed with Britpop guitars and pounding bass. There is a certain melancholy in the verse that gets pushed aside by the up-tempo chorus.

With two offerings on the record, Proxima’s first track stunningly recreates the sound of Radiohead fronted by John Lennon. This track is a bit more retiring than the two openers although a fantastic solo brings things up a few notches.

The second Proxima track, ‘Punk is Dead’, sounds completely different. Gone are the Radiohead and Beatles references and in are the Guided by Voices beats. Although impaired by a suicidal song title, this is a really good track.

‘Tales of Youth’ comes from early Placebo-a-likes, Arsen. This track has a spacious verse that’s light on guitars and in doing so leaves plenty of room for the build-up to the wall of noise chorus, which hits home with a memorable melody.

Surface’s ‘I Write Your Name on Rice’ is a bit disappointing with dodgy sounding instrumentation and Morrissey meets the Housemartins vocals. There are some nice ideas in the song but unfortunately they don’t really make it across the border due to passport related irregularities.

However, delivering an excellent indie track with Cardigan-esque vocals and grungy guitars, things are picked right back up by Barbara Anne’s ‘Wish’. With just guitar and vocals during the verse and an everything-we-got big chorus that gets grittier as the song goes on, the track ends with a bitter scream-fest that contrasts with the earlier lost-little-girl vocal sound.

‘Time Stole My Sandals’ is a funky track from Cutback with a rhythm bouncier than a dog on a trampoline. Tight harmonies and a slight hillbilly feel all add nicely to the up-beat tune.

‘Je Ferai Tout Ce Qu’Il y a Faire’ is, not surprisingly, entirely French and after a slightly rocky start, the pop sensibilities of Amok kick in with disco drums and spacey electronic noises all finding a place amongst the warm piano chords.

‘Slow Down’, by Curtain, has haunting vocals, rhythm loops, and bursts of eerie guitars with lots of effects. With a sound that surely nods at the doom pop of The Cure, this track would certainly have been the “we’re coming onto the stage” walk-on number.

There really are lots of hooks on this record and on the whole, the good tracks win the day. Foggy Bottom, Ely, Arsen, Barbara Ann, and Curtain are the pick of the bunch with Cutback and Amok adding the surprises.

Bring on volume 2!

Written by Fenton on

Steve Fenton writes in our music, words, and culture categories. He was Editor in Chief for The Mag and covered live music for DV8 Magazine and Spill Magazine. He was often found in venues throughout the UK alongside ace-photographer, Mark Holloway. Steve is also a technical writer and programmer and writes gothic fiction. Steve studied Psychology at OSC, and Anarchy in the UK: A History of Punk from 1976-1978 at the University of Reading.

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