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Across the Pennines III by Various Artists

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Reviewed on 12th November 2007.

 
 

Across the Pennines III

By Various Artists

This is another fine offering from the good people at AtP. Again, not every tune is perfect but it's as good a sampler as any of what's going on musically right now along the M62 corridor. (OK - that's hardly the geographical heart of any particular 'scene', as such, but it's a slice of the UK that's given the world more than its fair share of important music down the years.) This latest compilation has a good healthy dose of guitar and electro, but there's a fair old variety nonetheless.

'Fairytale of Love' probably isn't the most remarkable tune to be served up by Leeds' own The Sugars, but it's a reasonably solid sample of their bequiffed 50s vibe. More intense is The Wombats' 'Moving to New York' - something of a coup for AtP given that this is one of the better tunes taken from their own just-hit-the-shelves debut long player. It's three and half minutes of irresistibly good natured 'oo oo'-ing and hand clapping, cemented by chiming and jangling from the top drawer of guitar pop.

Ape Drape Escape are a new (and not exactly brilliant) name on me, but to listen to their (far better named) 'Took the Teeth from the Tiger' is to be shoutily frog marched across the drill yard to a jumble of non-sequiturs and an extremely spindly organ. Even noisier are Former Bullies, who don't exactly sound like they come from Chorley and yield some slightly clichéd and shouty American raaawk.

Orphan Boy seem to share a lot in common with the earlier unreconstituted version of The Dead 60s. In fairness to them 'Blood and Lovestruck' contains rather more buzzing guitar noise than your average ska workout, but it seems to sit rather ill at ease in the context of this slightly plodding and overly long number. The fantastic 'See the Blood' comes as a relief but also, on first hearing, something of a surprise. Not only are Black Wire - pity of pities - now no more than a treasured memory, but this is the one tune that received compilation inclusion (thanks to DTTR) in their lifetime, and thus some reasonable public exposure. Still, it's a great legacy by which to remember them by - climactic angularity at its sharpest and darkest.

The Ending Of...'s contribution seems to be a composite of three or four tunes, any of which might have stood closer attention on their own - but which, as a whole, comes across as something of a stop-start guitar jumble. From eerie beginnings, however, 'Mine's a Mime' (Fury of the Headteachers) takes a more traditional path through brooding verses and furious choruses. It also features one of the least sophisticated pieces of keyboard work ever heard.

From here, however, it's a killer one-two to finish the album. Pink Grease have been around for a while now, and I suspect that it's difficult to hold a neutral opinion on them unless you've never heard (or, perhaps more to the point, seen) them. The fact that they may have been transplanted wholesale straight out of the mid-80s probably seems like quite a selling point at the moment, though, and if you concentrate on the extreme danceability of the hook-laden synths of 'Solid', rather than the fact that the singer occasionally lapses into a parody of Erasure's Andy Bell, then you can't help but enjoy this shameless slice of electro-pop.

Taking themselves slightly more seriously, although featuring a similar number of backwards nods towards the decade of (one assumes) their birth, are (We Are) Performance. 'Chernobyl' ends up as a resounding piece of cinematic indie. The sweeping electronica and female backing lend depth to this track and it's a worthy closer to another worthy compilation. Roll on AtP IV!

 

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Pink Grease

Black Wire

Black Wire...

The Sugars

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