Saturday 28 December 2013

Odd Box Records - The 100 Club Series, Volume 1

Album review by

In a landscape where every possible track is available to download before the last drum beat has been mastered, it’s nice to mix it up a little with a bizarre concept known as the "limited release". 'The 100 Club Series' by Odd Box Records is a collection of 7” singles available via subscription only, thus creating an air of heightened anticipation in a world of accessibility and slick production values.

Flowers are not an early Icehouse covers band as one might expect (extra points at your next music trivia night) but a swirling Cocteau Twins flight of fancy. They are the most featured band on this compilation, showcasing twice as many tracks as the others. I may be hit in the head with your nearest effects pedal when I admit their sound didn't grab me; mostly because I prefer a dreamy female vocal with a little more gritty guitar to accompany it. I acknowledge that this is completely subjective however, and that for many of you Flowers will press all the right buttons. They certainly did for Suede's Bernard Butler who has helped record their debut since these earlier D.I.Y. home recordings (a fact that surprised me as there was nothing makeshift sounding about their production and singer Rachel's voice needs no tampering with).

Fever Dream were far more up my alley, they confirm our fine editor's prediction that 2014 will be awash in shoegaze fuzz. I wish I could invent a new term; it's becoming so ubiquitous a genre again. Doc Martens-stare? OK you find one ;) Their second track 'Teeth' is like slipping on an old Ned's Atomic Dustbin shirt. It's a comfortable dip into the less angsty parts of your teens, more a romantic vision of late afternoons by your mate's pool playing at being the depressed grown-ups with issues. Their vibe becomes appropriately frenetic where it needs to be; I was left wanting more than their two contributions - which I guess is precisely the point of a well thought-out compilation album.

Gum picked up nicely where they left however, with their track 'Sinking' taking a slower, more laid-back approach reminiscent of early Stone Roses. If this series were an essay then Gum would be that neat paragraph that ties it all together, incorporating the swirly synth of Flowers with a little of the darker parts of Fever Dream. Next single 'Over' shows all its cards quite early on, giving you all the fuzz, vocals and melody at the outset, stripping it back to its individual components as it lingers on. Incredibly atmospheric and large, I'm really looking forward to their debut full length in 2014. Martha remind me of Wombats, with a hint of Libertines swagger. Both tracks are fun with great hooks. Their accessible melancholy is wrapped in Buzzcocks harmonies and little-boy-lost charm. US group Cars Can Be Blue are like the Breeders meets '60s girl group meets country sweetness, even flirting with surf-punk on 'Going Sideways'.

The second 100 Club release is expected to drop early next year, with the 'Red Edition' due to showcase releases from Dog Legs, Bloomer, Sock Puppets, King of Cats and City Yelps. First offers for renewal will be given to past subscribers. We older folk might bitch about there being nothing new in music anymore; that everything is a little of what has gone before (OK, that might just be me on a regular basis at parties) but truly, if this is what the neighbour's kids are playing in their garages in 2014, bring it on.

Limited copies of Gum, Fever Dream and Cars Can Be Blue are available from the Odd Box Records website

All tracks can be streamed via Bandcamp

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