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Across The Pennines VI by Various Artists

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Reviewed on 11th August 2008.


Across The Pennines VI

By Various Artists

The heightened sense of regional pride in The North can become a bit absurd sometimes. Then again, on the strength of the deeply Northern music on the sixth Across the Pennines compilation, perhaps a little superiority complex is allowed. Although, the assertion that the compilations are quasi-fanzines keeping you up-to-date on musical goings-on from up North for "those who can't be bothered to read and those that can't" is possibly indicative of another clichéd Northern attribute!

Dinosaur Pile-up's "Love Is A Boat And We're Sinking" is one of the stand-out contributions: its disco-come-alt groove and sensibilities, whispy hooks and unprocessed, retro stylings means it is remarkably easy to fall for this track.

Elsewhere, the beautiful whimsy of Mechanical Owl's "Snowdonia" makes for yet another tempting tune. The muddy, low-end guitar chug is a curiously successful contrast to the light simplicity of the melodic work and vocal intonation, which is almost child-like in its purity and very appealing.

In a similarly blossoming yet understated fashion, "Inside The Egg" from the somewhat verbosely named Tim and Sam's Tim and the Sam Band is a more than worthwhile addition to the tracks on offer here. It grows from inconspicuous acoustic guitar arpeggios to a lush, thick-textured climax of layered vocal harmonies, sparkling glock and strings, each melodic contribution introduced individually with sparse yet bright homophonic accompaniment, and then ceremoniously piled on top of each other.

The true to form visceral and wired "The Lighthouse" from Pulled Apart by Horses is short but very un-sweet, and never fails to enthuse, while Napoleon IIIrd's thoughtful, murky electro remix of i concur is a calmer listen, complete with a characteristic Napoleon IIIrd middle-eight section (the synth bass and snare flams and drags combination is quite reminiscent of "Strong Nuclear Force").

A few tracks on here are certainly aimed at a specific audience - such as Wave Machines exaggerated falsetto and Team Waterpolo's euro-pop styled chorus, which are perhaps acquired tastes - but it is an admirably well conceived compilation. One of the strongest cases put forward for the supremacy of the North's music scene yet.



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8 bands associated with this article.

Tim and Sam's Tim and the Sam Band

Mechanical Owl

Snowdonia E.P available now from www.myspace.com/mechanicalowl

Napoleon IIIrd

lo-fi experimental indie

i concur

Alt-americana / Post rock.