By Various Artists
Whilst the 'Rhubarb Triangle' historically describes that polygonaceae-rich patch of land between Wakefield, Rothwell and Morley, I suspect that this compilation celebrates the musical output of the first-named metropolitan outpost. Last time I looked, Rothwell's proudest rock 'n' roll boast was being the home of one-dimensional cock-rockers The Pigeon Detectives, and people are still fussing nervously regarding how the good folk of Morley might react to the news that the Beatles have split.
Wakefield, on the other hand, has propelled itself out of the musical backwaters of having 'once been home to BeBop Deluxe' to the forefront of indie integrity thanks to the front-page attention given The Cribs, and more restricted yet nonetheless important column inches given to such outfits as The Research and Last Gang. Whilst the Jarmans' claim that "our precious Leeds is dead" may not yet have come to fruition, there's no dispute that WF continue to give LS a good run for its money in the postcode pop wars. And this album, released in support of the Samaritans, does a very good job of showcasing that talent.
The opening efforts from Pavilion and CryGirlCry, frenetic and portentous guitar work-outs both, set the scene; whilst Skint & Demoralised's "It's Only Been a Week" is a memorable, if naïve, effort which pitches at the ground between Middleman and The Streets. Repetitive chiming guitar is coupled with xylophone in this suburban tale of newly acquired romantic intrigue. 'Kissing (Tastes Like Cigarettes)' (from The Kolorado Rock Machine) is more in the mould of the afore-slated Pigeons, but like those pestilent avians one cannot entirely dismiss them. To find anything catchy is to forgive it, I suppose. The Bambinos are clearly pursuing the same get-out clause, even if they aspire more towards the work of northern neighbours, The Music.
Action!Action!Action!'s chiming repetitive indie washes over one unobtrusively until, as the title suggests, "It's Over", whilst The Spills' phaser-gun power-chording is more likely to smack you up sharp. 3Demonz' effort, on the other hand, was either the embarrassing work of a misogynist West Riding "gangsta", or I entirely missed the point. And as for The Picnic Solution, "Hi There" is an awful lot more interesting than the round of cheese & pickle sandwiches and thermos of tea that my grandmother might've favoured. Spread the tartan rug and open the wicker hamper; this is far more like it.
And talking of tartan, it's not surprising that One Day, After School... have named themselves for an Arab Strap song; "Nova Scotia" could scarcely be more redolent of that band's work. This is, of course, not a bad thing. Lapels, on the other hand, are a return to jaunty scuzzy Yorkshire urch-pop, before we wind up at Georgia Research's side-project The State of Georgia. From the sound of "I Feel Like You've Taken My Arms", her current state is melancholic to say the least; touching in its sonorous, sparsely accompanied vocals and carefully balanced harmonies.
Beyond this, however, we have a pair of genuine corkers. The Bundesrats' "Nervin'" is, indeed, taught with dark nervous energy, vocal histrionics, driving percussion and brass; great stuff. The Passing Fancy's "I Feel Great" may be more whimsical, but this tune lends the lie to anyone casually dismissive of singer songwriters with trademark guitar and harmonica. There's a wry humour and raw honesty here that sounds like it could keep your interest for far more than one or two novelty tunes. And as if by way of contrast, The Big Blue immediately goes on to remind us how staid and unexciting the one-man formula can sometimes be. Not even the slightly accelerated tempo towards the end can entirely stifle the yawns.
Francescas Adventures in Europe offer what seems to be the similarly dull "Hit By A Bus", until it leaps into a different gear towards the end of its route. But the tawdry boy-girl cross-vocal of "Dreaming Awake" (Mike McCone & Hannah Jepson), on the other hand, sounds like a dreary downbeat Dollar reject from the mid-80s. I suppose the problem with any cross-genre compilation is that they're going eventually to throw in something that I really can't fathom. This is it. It does have one advantage, however, which is to make The Whippets' "Float Away" sound better than it probably ought to.
In this comparative context it sounds as profound as ¡Forward,Russia!, but I have my suspicions that in general terms this tune is unlikely to change the face of music within the Rhubarb Triangle, let alone that of Planet Rock (TM). Having said that, it's a not un-tuneful end to a far-from-awful showcase of local talent. Who knows? Maybe the days of local industrial specialization are at an end. And if Wakefield continue to muscle in on 'our' music scene, are we Leodensians to be permitted to start forcing our way into the rhubarb market?
Post Hardcore/Pop/Alternative Rock
Acoustic rock band from Castleford, West Yorkshire.
Hip-hop from Wakefield
4-piece indie-rock from Wakefield
Ska/Rock band from Wakefield, West Yorkshire
Folk - France via Wakefield
Excitable Pounding Indie Pop from Wakey Town!