Various Artists - Brink of the Clouds

Tiffany Daniels 13/09/2010

Rating: 4/5

Half a decade ago Britain's music scene was a pit of testosterone fuelled hedonism. I don't mean this in a bad way; following in the footsteps of The Libertines, bands like The Paddingtons and Good Shoes offered the perfect balance of rock and pop: music that carried a decent tune but didn't always take itself too seriously; music to drink cider to without the threat of a brawl; reckless lyrics sung to sloppy instrumentation. The scene embodied a sense of romantic independence that a particular age group (myself included) desired more than anything else in the world. Over time, the sentiment has been lost - idolisation, the constant pattern of break-up/reunion and over-indulgence hasn't helped.

With Brink of the Clouds, new record label Art Is Hard have revived this niche without any of the pretence or attitude that enveloped it. Nine bands have been carefully selected from the South West to contribute to this compilation, which although not very varied, demonstrates the area's undiscovered potential on a grand scale; few could hope for a first release as accomplished and enjoyable as this.

Dutch Husband start the affair; 'Gratitude' has a wonderfully lo-fi production, which trashes its way through a rock sheen to reveal a chorus worthy of any underground audience. Elsewhere fellow Bournemouth band True Swamp Neglect offer 'Map of the Map', a riotous ode to love in the suburbs. Both acts have since called it a day, which makes them an odd choice for a new start, but their superiority ultimately warrants their inclusion. Of those still in existence, Somerset's They That Cried Wolf capture the jubilation of the release perfectly, and Bristol's My Name Is Ian donates a moody ballad reminiscent of Special Needs.

Although Mojito Soundsystem lower the temp with their track 'Post' and Cycle Schmeichel present an element of punk to the table, by and large this record walks down a one way street; the lack of a female presence is disturbing and most acts don't dare to stray away from the traditional line-up of guitar, bass and percussion. It's rare that I'd ignore this kind of folly, but in this instance I'm quite happy to kick back and enjoy what is, essentially, a fantastic start to a hopefully flourishing career.

Brink of the Clouds by Art Is Hard Records