Leeds Music Scene

United City by Various Artists

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Reviewed on 2nd October 2007.


United City

By Various Artists

The folks at Soundpeople who compiled this monster collection are probably the same sort who just can't help themselves trying one of everything at the pick'n'mix stall. Afterwards they sit there groaning in a post-gorge stupor saying "All those Cola-bottles and Chocolate Brazils... what was I thinking?" as a diabetic coma heads in their direction. To be fair it is blatantly obvious that the compilers of the 35 tracks on this 2 CD collection have nothing but noble intentions. Unfortunately, the overall effect is one of watering down rather than strengthening the flavours on offer. People are not going to think "Excellent there are 35 tracks here to get through" they're more likely to think "There are some good songs on here but can I be arsed to skip through the rest?"

The 35 artistes on offer, line-up on the back cover design as 2 opposing football teams, so here then are the ones who made the first team selection. The Highs make a welcome impact with the opening foray of disk 1. "I waited" is a strong cello laden piece of swelling-pop-rock summoning resemblances to Elbow and Leeds stalwarts Four Day Hombre. Changing the tone are the excellent Laboratory Noise who sound like a cross between Ian Brown, British Sea Power and The Twang. It's atmospheric baggy if there is such a thing... well there is now. Snipereyes are a real find, with their retro John Lennon inspired tones and not unlike The Bees, this is great laidback stuff. Mark Morris, he formerly of The Bluetones, shows that his former beat-combo may have been tossed on the popularity scrapheap with the end of the brit-pop era but he still has an excellent ear for an Indie guitar pop tune. Micky P Kerr ends disc 1 with the lament "Dreamers Club" and shows how adept he is when he steers away from trying to make his audience laugh. Romping in to kick off disc 2 is the poptastic International Trust. Here with a rerun of their first single, as ever choc-full of melody, a corny sounding keyboard and tongue in cheek themes. Kockee offer a welcome dose of lo-fi hip-hop which is a welcome break from the "boys with guitars" theme that prevails over the main selection of bands included. Frankie Eisenhower provide some beaten up blues akin to the 22-20s and are perfectly accompanied by Bradford's The Touch whose excellent blues-rock sound makes a welcome appearance with "Madman on a Cliff". Leeds grandfathers of ignored excellence The Terminals positively gallop in with the rockabilly beats of "Black Lightening" while The Invention show some invention albeit to sit comfortably along other purveyors of the modern guitar vs disco beat angular sound. All in all this leaves the other 24 fighting for a place on the subs bench.

If Soundpeople had bitten the bullet and stood strong with a quality control system that was vicious rather than forgiving, then this would be a review imploring you to buy this record immediately. As it is, treat this as the investigative piece of research it is and be comforted that the inevitable argument about value for money will always go a long way.



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On 3rd October 2007 at 01:17 Anonymous 660 wrote...

Hmm hopefully the reviewer didn't take his own advice?

"There are some good songs on here but can I be arsed to skip through the rest?"

One man's meat is another man's poison and all that stuff. I've had the album since it came out a couple of months ago and I've not tired of listening to it. True, there are some weaker tracks including, for me, Kockee (pretty predictable lo-fo hip hop) and Mark Morris, but there are some revelations, including as the man said, Frankie Eisenhower, sounding like the bastard offspring of CCR and Thin Lizzy, and Snipereyes, The High, Touch; I agree with all that.

Dreamers Club and Bruce Lee are easy listening pop songs (doesn't make them bad in any way, just more accessible).

Having listened to the compilation probably more than 30 times (and, yes, I am a lyrics buff) I am struck by the overall quality of tracks like Anticlockwise (an anthem for anyone over 35), Thomas Hopkins (your deities won't know what day it is) Tom Hingley's "Time is the thief" (regrets, I've had a few, but then again - so have you), Rob Nichols' Cohenesque "Love is", Kid Id's wonderfully inventive syncopation on "Imprints"

I could go on, but I won't.

There are 35 tracks and it's unlikely that they will all suit everyone's taste - there are a few I skip when I'm playing it, but I'm glad they made the effort to put it together. It's introduced me to a lot of bands that otherwise I would have missed.


On 3rd October 2007 at 07:44 Dave LMS wrote...

Some good comments/thoughts there.

And I think, in a roundabout sort of way, you and Rick are both making the same underlying point; with so many tracks [a good thing to some, bad thing to others] on offer, it will be hard to stop people skipping through some of the ones they perceive to be the 'weaker ones'.



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8 bands associated with this article.

International Trust

Genre: Punk/Pop

Laboratory Noise



psychedelic indie rock

Frankie Eisenhower

country blues rock

The Touch

Three Dirty Psychedelic Blues Dogs from Bradford! Shared the stage with many a fine artist including - We Are Scientists, Milburn, The Pigeon Detectives, Wolf & Cub, Hey Gravity! (ex. Dodgy guitarists new band), The Lovers (ex. Inspiral Carpets)