Various - Raw And Unplugged In The New Cross

Bill Cummings 21/03/2005

Rating: 3/5

Collecting together a variety of artists connected with or living in the New Cross, this CD is an attempt to catalogue what is a burgeoning scene. It's released nationwide through Cargo Records on the 21st Of March and making its way to indie record shops across the land at the cheap price of 4.99 for twenty two pretty fine tracks.

The CD starts off strong the wonderful Art Brut featuring Jim Rhesus and Richy Andou. “Moving to LA” is a humorous romp of a song: Argos shows off his gloriously unhinged spoken word style to the full above strummed guitars, planning for a better life in LA, dissecting all the clichés that go with that: tongues firmly in cheek, he sings lines like “Hang around With Axl Rose/Buy myself some band new clothes/Everything will be just fine/I hear the murder rate is in decline.”

Next up are Nebraska, who have been building up attention as a indie band that can melt hearts. “Peggy Sue” is a gentle waltz that brings to mind The Smiths but retains a magisterial power at its breast. Elsewhere Anna Vincent's “The New Access” has a cracking metallic sound with a neat chorus, meanwhile Evi Vine takes the pace down a notch with a gorgeous haunting ballad “Inside Her” that wouldn't sound out of place on a Kristian Hersh solo album.

The man behind the whole compilation Ceri James adds his weight to the album with his own effort “Penny Serenade” a nice bluesy strummed sound is complemented by Ceri's croon. Other highlights include Gemma Ray Ritual: “2.4 Machine” is a sublime effort full of atmospheric guitars and Gemma's effecting croon: this girl has a future. Next up is The Dirty Pins' “Welfare State”, all slurred words like “with a stroke of a pen they take it all away again” and bluesy guitars, it's ace. While, The Crowd's “And She Went To Paris” sounds like Pete Doherty on full acoustic balladry form replete with whistles and The Albion's vocal ticks. Steve Morrison's “Inspired moment” is a bluesy blue grass slab of style, while Bobbi Bird takes a funky dub reggae stab at “Without Love”. Next up is Oggie feat Kareem Dayes and Miles James with “Sometimes”, it's a magical ballad, aided by the three voices working in harmony. Samano's “Hide it from your missus” is the sound of a sweet female vocal added to by Bowie style interruptions.

There are some lowlights, though. Daniel Renouf's “Goldstreaks” resembles a lightweight Alfie and there are some tracks that are eminently skippable. Also I would have thought some more of the better known names of the New Cross would have gladly added an acoustic version of one of their songs, I'm mystified by the omission of Chris TT and The Low Edges who would have been perfectly suited to this kind of record.

Overall though, a good compilation that's worth getting for the highlights, and the diverse nature of each track means that there is something for everyone, and well under a fiver is a cheap price to pay for this much quality.