When I agreed to review a compilation of Huddersfield bands, I was expecting one CD of rock/pop/electro stuff. Maybe a couple of CDs at a push. I was not expecting three CDs, only one of which is rock-based. The others are dedicated to “Dance” and to “Urban Hip Hop Chill”. Since my knowledge of Hip Hop begins and ends with the Beastie Boys and my knowledge of dance can neither be said to begin nor end due to its utter lack of any measurable existence, this turn of events left me a little flummoxed. Seeing as there are 41 bands on this compilation, I’m realistically unable to mention them all. Seeing as I know nothing about the genres within which most of them move, I’m unable to make much in the way of an informed comment. Still, far be it from me to let such piffling factors come between me and the forming of an opinion…
The vast majority of the Urban/Hip Hop/Chill CD was far, far too laid back for me. I’m not possessed of a sufficiently relaxed disposition to listen to anything which could be described as “chilled” without being overcome by an irresistible urge to fuss, fidget and, in extreme cases, twitch. My life just wasn’t designed to be soundtracked by anything slow-paced, and listening to stuff which is supposed to relax me tends to make me come over all defensive. So, suffice it to say that this CD is notable for the sheer variety of songs – ranging from the obvious hip hop through jazz and electro instrumentals to songs which would sit equally well on the dance CD – and for the fact that so few of the tracks fit the obvious template expected of a compilation such as this. The songs brim over with innovation, originality and unexpected twists – oh, and violins. Violins seem to have a big following among the Huddersfield Hip Hop contingent. Maybe it’s the musical equivalent of a Yorkshire accent.
There are several bands on the _Guitars disc who I feel deserve a more extensive listen, the most noteworthy of which being The Scaramanga Six. TSS are great. They are riotous and raucous; threatening and theatrical; tuneful and weird and energetic; and are absolutely fucking beautiful in that specific, gleefully wrathful rock’n’roll way which is one of my favourite kinds of beauty. Being 747 also do the job quite nicely with their crazy synthesised space age ramblings, although they’re a little too noncommittal to earn my unrestrained praise. Wormachine, on the other hand, are anything but noncommittal: they’re clearly rather angry and don’t care how many of the people who listen to their Pop Will Eat Itself/Grandaddy hybrid (yes, I know how wrong that sounds) sound know it. Loud shouty distorted crashing noise with melancholy synthesisers over the top: Nice. And it ends with an explosion: who could ask for more? The stylised Hole-Garbage thrash of Mary Jane isn’t really my thing, but they deserve an honourable mention for forcing me to nod along and tap my feet anyway. And then there’s the bewildering Mr Shiraz, with their counterintuitive flamenco-rock which sounds like a village band contest being held to ransom by the Muppet Show – and maybe it is. I’d definitely like to think so.
As for the Dance CD… well, it fulfils all the correct criteria by being, quite clearly, music to dance to. You can’t argue with that, and I wouldn’t dream of trying.
So that’s alright, then.