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Across The Pennines IV by Various Artists

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Reviewed on 2nd March 2008.

 
 

Across The Pennines IV

By Various Artists

Another ATP compilation hits the doormat and, with it comes another predictably unpredictable clutch of northern sparkle. If this were vinyl then what would be Side 1 is sprinkled with largely electronic angularity. Dead Disco are a good way to get any party started, and are thus an obvious choice to do the honours for this album. Why these purveyors of the darkly danceable don't get more recognition at a national level is anyone's guess, but we love 'em here in Yorkshire.

Sex Education's 'Turn On' provides a moody bassline and shrouded haunting vocals over a taut backing track; a bit like Joy Division with processed beats, maybe. Similarly fond of their computer backing track, this time replete with handclaps, are Beautiful Balloon. They also do a nifty line in guitars and keyboard twiddles. Anyone that namechecks ˇForward,Russia! is clearly feasting on the right influences, although the overall effect is probably trumped by the brash and shameless effort from Daggers that follows it. Like Pink Grease on ATP III, these guys and gals throw a lot of potentially cheesy 80s ingredients into the mix that is 'Private Life' but somehow emerge with some tasty, if indulgent, pop confection.

The first half draws to an end with Headlines, whose 'Damage To The Sea' appears to be the first track here to eschew synthesizers. Upbeat guitars, almost Campesinos-style earnest vocals and - at one point - a fluttering lick borrowed from the 13th Floor Elevators - add up to a buoyant enough three minutes. And so, from this Mancunian band we move on to Leeds' The Old Romantic Killer Band. The down-and-dirty guitar and drums workout that is Lovers Pass lollops along catchily enough. There's a bit of shouting, a bit of bluesy riffing and a neat tempo shift all within two and a half minutes: a simple formula well executed.

There's a chance that Catweasels may have at least heard the odd Dexy's album in their time, and the vocalist seems to have that kind of styling about him. There's something rough-hewn and stop-start about 'Peter Cares', though, that seems to touch on several different genres and choices of instrumentation before it's through. And to some extent the same could be said for Elle S'Appelle whose charming organ-driven boy / girl vocal exchange, 'Wood For The Trees', morphs into a near-anthemic crescendo. If forced to choose, this is my pick of the album.

The Rosie Taylor Project continue to do what they know, which basically boils down to charmingly infectious repetition. OK, their mellow simplicity borders on the twee at times, but The Sun On My Right shows how good they are at what they do. And The Answering Machine appear to hit us with more of the same, albeit with slightly more grating vocals and less lush instrumentation. The Information is basically a stripped down acoustic guitar workout which brings ATP IV to a calm and ever-so-slightly soporific conclusion. As ever, though, it's been an education about the healthy state of play in these parts right now.

 

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Dead Disco

"All the best female-fronted pop songs ever ('Atomic', 'Kids In America', anything involving Gwen Stefani), mashed up and sung out by an indie Alison Goldfrapp in a stripy prom dress. Better believe it, buddy" NME

The Rosie Taylor Project

indie alt-country