Thursday 15 November 2012

Raving Pop Blast! - A Tribute To The Groove Farm

Album review by KevW

For the entire duration of Bristol garage-pop band The Groove Farm's existence I was at primary school, therefore my personal knowledge of the band, until now, didn't stretch beyond a handful of songs recommended by other people. That was until this tribute album arrived and had me scouring Myspace, Youtube etc for more of their originals. Much was made (and still is now, maybe more than ever) of the C86 tape and the scene it spawned, but a common mistake is that this consisted of twee indiepop bands, when in reality many of those involved, while still resolutely indie, had a harsher, noisier sound, and this could be said about The Groove Farm.

Although it's fair to say that DIY guitar music has never gone away, it's certainly had its ups and downs, with the last few years seeing a welcome surge in activity of bands inspired by the likes of The Groove Farm and their brothers in fuzz. The cast list for this 21 strong tribute album consists of bands who are intent on keeping this spirit alive. Some are bands we know well (Liechtenstein, One Happy Island, Banana and Louie, Glenn Mercer from The Feelies etc.) and some are new faces we're yet to investigate properly. A big surprise, and this maybe testament to the unsung influence The Groove Farm had, is that there are 21 bands here, each interpreting a song their own way, yet it doesn't sound like a compilation. It's smooth and cohesive, it flows like the work of one (albeit slightly diverse) band. And maybe being not 100% familiar with the original version of each and every track leads to possibly a more objective view of the album.

There are a few curiosities, such as why does 'Something's Going Wrong' by Jaffaboy reference Ballboy, a band who formed after The Groove Farm split? I'm sure there's an answer if we dig deep enough. Above all, and regardless of the odd interpretation that's not entirely faithful to the original, you can't help but commend the quality of the songwriting; so it's no wonder such a large number of bands were willing to contribute. Personal favourites include 'What Better Way To Be? by Death By Chocolate, the clattering, jangle-pop of 'Watching The World Go By' by The Wendy Darlings and organ-heavy opener 'My Feet Keep Slipping' by The Drain On The Balcony. Really though, there's little to choose between them, and everyone who listens to this collection will find favourites. What makes this voyage of discovery even better is that not only (in my case at least) the discovery of a past band with a cannon of great tunes, but a wealth of modern DIY pop disciples to explore too. 'Raving Pop Blast!' is the album that just keeps on giving.

Here are a couple of originals for you to enjoy:

For more info on The Groove Farm head here

Buy the album (all profits to Macmillan Cancer Support & Bristol Dog's Home)

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