SCREAMLITE RECORDS LTD REVIEW FORM
Band Name: Various Artists
CD Title: Home Volume 1
Press Pack Included: Yes
Review: The press pack included was an overview of the origins of this compilation and included hyperlinks to all the artists involved. Very concise and very relaxed, making us feel part of the creation. This less formal approach worked well.
This is a first for ScreamLite Records, an unsigned compilation put out by like-minded musicians for free. Before we get into the review, we’ve got to say this is a fantastic idea, making sure that bands and musicians you know get a new audience, so well played to Snippet and Bob Wotnot, who both feature on this compilation.
“Home,” is described as an assortment of folk, quirky pop and even Latin music from across the world. American, British and even Norwegian bands all feature on this 15 track compilation. It gets off to a beautiful start with “Collecting Skies,” by The Big I Am. Orchestral and folksy all at once, wonderfully produced and incredible in every way, The Big I Am could feature in an old theatre or an intimate folk club gig and not be out of place with their sound being very reminiscent of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds more subdued moments. That is followed by “Maybe In The Holidays,” a burst of electro indie pop from Big Hands Big Hearts. Again, wonderfully produced and brilliantly executed by both vocalists who seem to be having a conversation through their singing, which makes for a great change. Next up, another piece of quirky indie pop, from Norway, “Skipping Down The Street,” by My Little Pony. Very reminiscent of Peter, Bjorn & John, this Oslo based quartet write catchy melody hooks and drench them in happy go lucky synths and folksy guitars, another killer track. Head Of Light Entertainment follow that up with some offbeat leftfield Euro folk with “Lady Godiva’s Horse,” which sounds both like a great 60’s pop band (think Spencer Davis Group) and the kind of folk you get from Mumford & Sons, both upbeat and offbeat all at once. The tempo and mood quietens next up for The Million Stars track, “Small Rain,” a heartfelt folk ballad with orchestral backing. The vocals sound like Cerys Matthews’ later solo work while the guitar is allowed to do enough to keep a steady song while being the basis for the orchestral touches in the foreground. Another outstanding track.
One of the two brains behind the operation, Snippet is up next, with “Man Without Mobile.” Another quirky little number, this starts like it could have been an early 90’s Oasis B-Side, but develops into something far more agreeable as this short track progresses. A Dan Whitehouse track is next, “If I Grow Old.” This track is a remix by Soap Company and this would not go amiss in a TV programme or sports montage to reflect defeat or loss as this track alone sounds moody and meaningful, but is accentuated by the low end piano and remixed vocal line. This track sounds like it should build to one almighty crescendo and does not disappoint with the vocal line hitting a more powerful stride at the end. Dual credit to Dan Whitehouse and Soap Company. That is followed up by Beachy Head Music Club’s, “English Way Of Coping.” Very Beatles-esque in it’s delivery, this slice of quirky pop relies on the narrative vocals explaining the title, which it does very well. Another great selection. Stealing Sheep are up next with “Sleep.” Another female vocalist, and another beautiful song, perfectly put together and well written. Another dose of Theremin (much like our favourite Jerry Afraid) and even xylophone make this both wonderfully childlike and serious all at once, especially with the very end of the track punctuated by giggling and conversation. The other of the two masterminds behind the compilation, Bobby Wotnot, is up after Stealing Sheep with the longest track “Vermillion.” Both folksy and mildly Latin (even with the harp!) Bobby seems settled and calm, which is a trait running throughout this compilation. This is the kind of song that would go down well as a Sunday calmdown after a loud Saturday night with it’s unobtrusive instrumentation and slow tempo. “Have You Seen My Love?” by Bad Dancer is up next and they’ve taken a funkier, early 80’s approach to electro indie with this track. Great tempo and all electronic instrumentation it seems to borrow from both Gary Numan and “Japanese Whispers,” era Cure while throwing in a modern vibe to move proceedings along without compromising on style. Dutchman Wim Oudijk throws another perfectly made piece of quirky pop our way with “Bath.” This track seems particularly quirky, starting out as a variation on elevator music and breaking down into harmonised vocals and swing, this is one hell of a great song.
Mutley follow up with their own folk swing number, “Medusa.” This track seems to want to swing more than anything else, brass section in full flow while the piano keeps a blues swing variation going. But the haunting Theremin (back by popular demand!) seems to take this track into darker realms and makes this seem more like a track pulled out of a 20’s club but made to sound like the club is haunted but it is still a fantastic track. “Get Up,” by Richard O’Flynn is the penultimate track, which reverts back to more traditional folk and brings the tempo back up. This track sounds like it could fit easily on a pop punk record with full band, but just as easily fits right here with it’s acoustic taps and nuances. Finally, Cleemann finishes this epic compilation off with “Ambitious.” Another track with alot of samples, electronic enhancements and remixed beats, this track may be downtempo but has an optimistic tinge to it, making this song more of a grand finish that perhaps others would have been.
Overall, this compilation is mind blowing, combining so many different sounds and textures, Snippet and Bobby Wotnot should be proud of their achievement here.