Monday 12 November 2012

Various Artists - Brush Strokes On Canvas

Album review by KevW

Imagine entering the TARDIS and blindly letting it rematerialise in a time and destination unknown to you. Upon stepping out of those blue doors the first thing you see, lying on the ground in front of you, is a CD. No name, no tracklisting, nothing. So you take this disc and insert it into the CD player inside the famous police box (the TARDIS must have a CD player, right?) and listen to the sounds emanating from its high-tech, futuristic sound system. Using the music contained therein, you make an informed decision about exactly where and when you have landed. Chances are you'll probably hazard a guess at sometime in the mid 1980s, possibly in Glasgow, but certainly somewhere in the British Isles. You'd be wrong on the date, but it's easy to see, or rather hear, why.

Compiled by Exeter independent label Pastime Records to coincide with the 2012 South-West Music Awards, Brush Strokes On Canvas feels like a journey back to the days of labels like Postcard Records, Sarah Records and the C86 scene, but that's not to say that music from this part of the world consists of reviving past sounds, it's more that the label in question generally focuses its efforts on discovering the best new indie bands the region has to offer. There is the odd link to those days gone by; for example, Phil Wilson of the recently reformed June Brides contributes majestic solo track 'I Own It' and also provides the artwork. Keeping that indiepop spirit alive are a few of the great bands we've covered recently (Banana and Louie, Falling Trees, Andy B) as well as other acts we're familiar with such as A Fine Day For Sailing.

The South-West has always been fiercely independent, but this often centres around its substantial punk and metal scenes, as well as traditional folk. By way of cohesion this compilation doesn't touch on the heavier sounds, the closest we get is the rock stylings of Secrets For September, but alt-folk and folk-rock make a few welcome appearances with tracks from Mozura, Count To Fire and others. Raining Globe's 'Feel The Sun' is classic indie, as is The Coffin Collectors' 'Red Hair', and A Fine Day For Sailing's 'Little Places' is typically lovable. There are 19 tracks here, so too many to mention each individually, but at the same time this represents great value. It's difficult to find fault with a compilation that so successfully captures a seldom celebrated scene. As Rod Stewart once sang it's "a little old fashioned but that's alright", and Brush Strokes On Canvas is a wonderful snapshot, or maybe even a time capsule, of a thriving and truly independent music scene.

Pastime Records' website

Buy the album

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