Tuesday, August 23, 2016

As If You Need Me To Tell You How Great This Slumberland/Fortuna POP! Split Compilation Album Is?

I guarantee you that in four short months, lots and lots of music writers are going to be looking back to this release and declaring it one of the musical high points of 2016. Well, heck, I'm going to do that right now. A release split between acts from the wonderful Slumberland Records and Fortuna POP! labels, Continental Drift offers up 8 tracks from 4 of the hottest bands operating in the indie arena today. The results are like the best mix-tape you ever paid someone to make.

Collecting cuts from Philadelphia's Mercury Girls (pictured up above), Baltimore's Wildhoney, London's Tigercats, and Edinburgh's The Spook School, this mini-album is a pure blast from start to finish. The 2 Mercury Girls cuts here -- "Holly" and "Beverly" -- are deliciously shimmering bursts of fuzzed-out guitars and girl pop vocals. Think The Primitives, think Black Tambourine, think Shop Assistants. Like everything I've heard from Mercury Girls -- even their demos up on Bandcamp! -- the 2 tunes are concise reminders of all the things you like in this genre, and a significant nudging of those things into the 21st century. And, like with every bit of music this lot releases, a listener is left wondering how long the wait will be to the first full-length from Mercury Girls.

Elsewhere, Edinburgh's The Spook School share "Sometimes I Hide From Everybody", all C86 head-bobbing goodness, and the more wistful "Gone Home" which charms as a sort of blend of Belle and Sebastian and Heavenly.

Baltimore's Wildhoney seem to take more cues from the 4AD legacy than they do from any shambling C86 aesthetic, "Horror Movie" offers up pure early Cocteau Twins hooks with a trace of the superb-but-nearly-forgotten Swallow, and "T L (Reprisal)" closes out Continental Drift by treading a similar sort of territory.

And, finally, London's Tigercats bring the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah-leaning "Sidney Street" and the more straightforward "Rent Control" which rides a Wannadies-style hook into indie-pop glory.

Continental Drift is a superb sampler of the young generation's take on the sort of music that shaped me in my twenties. I say that not to highlight how old I am but, rather, to draw attention to the fact that so much of this sort of music is timeless and right and wonderfully catchy. That a whole new crop of bands are updating this sort of thing for a new century makes this old indie fan very happy. Lots of these players here weren't born when C86 came out, or even when the first wave of bands in the U.K. (and significantly a whole lot of U.S. acts coalescing around the College Park, Maryland-formed Slumberland Records) were picking up guitars to produce similar music. But that's okay. The kids are alright, as they say, and every cut on Continental Drift will make you happy and have you smiling. Shouldn't all indie do that?

Continental Drift is out on Friday. Containing acts from both the Slumberland Records and Fortuna POP! labels, the best place to get it is probably via Slumberland Records if you are in the USA.

Follow Mercury Girls via the band's official Facebook page. Follow The Spook School via the band's official Facebook page. Follow Wildhoney via the band's official Facebook page. And, of course, follow Tigercats via that band's official Facebook page.