By Various Artists
5 tracks 5 bands. Showing that Manchester's Fat Northerner are trying to cover plenty of pop bases. I'm trying to imagine myself as one of the lucky ITC delegates sniffing out artists to add to my glittering roster ... what do I think?
"Slow Down" from Pioneers has a sludgy "Cedar Room" feel to it, without the emotional thrill that EP gave us back in (was it?) 2000 when Coldplay were shivering similar timbres. It has a big softy chorus, banal enough to be a very huge hit with a soaring vocal line to thrill the easily impressed.
"Eyeball Man" by Slims is some sort of metal by graphic calculator that surrenders itself for 30 whole seconds (it's only two minutes 17 seconds in total) to a sub-Hendrix guitar solo of monumental daftness. Otherwise the best track on the CD. Watch out for three piece Slims.
"Deeper" by Earl is an interesting combination of Gary Numan keyboards and Toyah Wilcox vocals. I happen to know that there are 263 similar bands in studios as we speak. They all sound pretty fine on the playback and they are definitely and officially good. But it has been tried before and to get the emotional charge out of all that equipment you really do need something a bit special. And then it works.
"Do the Right Thing" by Blue Avenger has a Prodigy-Lite feel, but betrays its Pro Tools origins with an oddly glitchy drop-in at about 1 minute 30. Some live playing could have rescued it. Not a right-off at all.
"I See Double" by Parma Violets is a bucket of coldcream from an Alpine Valley with dandelion clocks and tinkling bells and Leo Sayer emotional depth. After the intro it goes into a Tiny Tears disco beat that evokes a dizzying image of Pete Waterman doing a Rick Astley comeback album. And, oh joy, one of those "Devil Woman" era "rock guitar" solos from a Cliff single. I'm totally confused by this one. A joke? A stab at the post-Bingo bus queue market? It's nice, Jim. But ... us pensioners would rather listen to Bardo Pond if that's OK.
As a reality check for my fantasy ramblings I imagined a Wrath Records equivalent to this North Western offering. I reluctantly have to report there was No Contest. I've got no argument with Fat Northerner - what they're doing is great. These are very difficult times to be running a regionally based independent label, no question. But without talent that flicks hot mozzarella into the Ginsters Pie Supper of the Star's tour bus snack, you've no chance.