Tearjerker, Ellis James - Sore Thumb Records Halloween Compilation 2009

Owain Paciuszko 11/11/2009

Rating: 4/5

A somewhat belated review of independent Canadian label's Ghoulish compilation of artists available for free download.

Opening with Giulio Bevacqua's spooky acoustics on Devil's Night, which remind me of a folk cover of the theme from Suspiria (minus eerie vocals). After this beguiling and atmospheric instrumental opener we have the drowsy, despairing vocals of Blind Billy Burroughs featuring Bolshy Bolnoy Bog with Candy For Timothy. The mix of anguish and a slow, meditative electronic beat makes this resemble a suitably broken and battered collaboration between Bright Eyes and Casiotone For The Painfully Alone.

A collage of sounds lead into Midnight Music Box, which features contributions from Bevacqua but is the work of Trevor Hawkins, it mixes chugs of electirc guitar with a ponderous piano line and occasional vibraphone twinkles. It has the same eerie soundscape of something like Tom Waits' What's He Building In There?, but without lyrics it leaves you to conjure up your own creepy images. I Found What I Lost When I Died by Ellis James sounds like Mercury Rev stripped down to anti-folk and is fragile and sweetly sung in James' appealing and curious voice. When the song builds it smacks of Electro Shock Blues-era Eels, rich in production but ultimately delicate and honest.

The final two tracks are both by Tearjerker, the first Werewolf begins like a sonic Grandaddy-oddity, electronic bird noise fizzing into a laidback drum beat and finger clicks whilst Scream has a distant bass-line, tin-can drumming and a echoing bleat of ethereal vocals; kind of like Half-Handed Cloud goes prog.

This little six track showcase is a perfect introduction (regardless of season) to a stunning indie label with a highly impressive roster of artists.