Coventry’s Tough Love Records is one year old this July, and in commemoration of the anniversary they’ve decided – hurrah! – to release a compilation CD. Featuring nineteen bands, some from the Tough Love stables and some from further afield, it’s a gathering of the tuneful, the quirky and the boisterous – and here, in my opinion, are some particular highlights…
Das Wanderlust ensure that things start with a bang: their high-speed, shouty girl-punk is a mixture of the better bits of early Placebo and pre-school riot-girlers ripping up the musical section of the nursery. More female-fronted noise, this time of the more angular rock persuasion, comes from Chaos Emeralds, who mix shouting-girl attack-punk with funk-infused verses and handclaps aplenty. Rather more mournful, though still with a vein of humour, is the contribution from Smokers Die Younger, whose ‘Kermit Song’ offers both an interesting glimpse of their pre-album sound and a most enjoyable, rather odd and strangely affecting indie-basics number: creaking keyboards, very deliberate bass and an explosive chorus.
Speeding things back up, Popular Workshop make a most-welcome appearance with their stop-start-shout high-intensity punk – evocative stuff which is pleasingly full of odd randomnesses, from a band who manage to both be typical of a genre and instantly recognisable as themselves. The low-impact, strumming-and-vocals intro of Korova’s 'Bad Poetry' is soon belied by the song’s explosion into an aching cacophony of cymbals, distortion and perversely appropriate violin – this lot really are rather special.
And here are some other noteworthies in the forms of: Camp Actor, who like their electro melodramatic and stomping and who may well appeal to those who find subtlety an excessive indulgence; the crescendoing 80s pop-repetition of Circus of Death; the soothing, synthetic-psychedelica oddity of MisterLee’s 'Magnesium Horses'; and Flipron with the dark, piano-based narrative of ‘The Vicious Car and Love Poem’. Diversity: ‘tis a mighty thing.
Oh: and if you like indie-pop, either of the fey and jangling or of the angular kicking-out variety, you’ll find more of it here than you can shake a gladioli at…