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Indie Compilations & Label Samplers Indie Rock Music

Patient Zero (A Sub Pop Sampler, 2004)

I’ve just received a new copy of this excellent Sub Pop compilation. This one is from 2004. Unfortunately, the first thing I notice (& which I’d forgotten from years ago) is that it features a song in common with it’s 2003 predecessor, Infecting The Galaxy One Planet At A Time, The District Sleeps Alone Tonight by The Postal Service. I have to say that I find this dissapointing.

However, like Infecting The Galaxy One Planet At A Time, Patient Zero is a wonderful collection of songs from the time.

Patient Zero opens with Kissing The Lipless by The Shins (at the time pretty much unknown). An upbeat Indie Pop anthem with acoustic guitars & handclaps. Fairly straightforward Indie-by-numbers but enjoyable nonetheless.

A personal favourite, The Thermals return with a track from their second album, Fucking A, How We Know. It’s lo-fi post Grunge with quiet, repetitive verses & loud, explosive choruses. Definitely a great band & you have to admire the commercial suicide of naming their second album Fucking A.

The Constantines deliver some atmospheric & anthemic Indie Rock with roots in Gargage Rock. Possibly rode in on the coattails of the Garage Rock revival which was, in 2004, giving way to the Post-Punk revival. It’s an upbeat tune, loaded with positivity & some decent noise guitar playing which wouldn’t sound out of place on a Sonic Youth record.

Classic Blues inspired Rock n Roll, dripping in noisy guitars, pounding rhythm section & soaring chorus, The Catheters return with the song No Natural Law. It’s exhilarating stuff & you could hear a lot of this kind of music around 2003-4. Bands like The Von Bondies & The D4 spring to mind.

Rogue Wave’s Endless Shovel is upbeat & sunny sounding Psychedelic Pop. Despite the ’60’s vibes, the bass & drums give Endless Shovel a level of heaviness that was practically unheard of back then. Definite Kinks vibes. The outro, which to me is the highlight, is heavier & noisier than the rest of the song.

Frausdots deliver Soft Light, an enjoyable enough Interpol-esque exploration of ’80’s dark Indie (Joy Division, The Cure etc.). Kind of what The Killers would sound like if they were more sonically adventurous & their lyrics weren’t meaningless drivel. The chorus lifts up into radio friendly, soaring Power-Pop.

The Helio Sequence bring some smooth, soulful Synthpop & robotic drum machine rhythms with Blood Bleeds. Delayed guitar patterns build up into squalls of friendly sounding noise.

Naked As We Came by Iron & Wine is soft voiced, fingerpicked lo-fi Folk music. Pretty vocal melodies float gracefully over the minimalistic track & the warm hissing of analogue tape.

The Elected’s Greetings In Braille is soft, sunny Folk Pop with upbeat guitar strumming & pretty melancholic melodies. It feels like there’s a whistling solo missing to me.

Rosie Thomas’s Red Rover is a lush Folk arrangement with warm vocal harmonies & pretty fingerpicking.

On Your Way by The Album Leaf is lush Indie Pop with downbeat glockenspiel & keyboard melodies floating dreamlike over drum machine rhythms & clean guitar sounds.

I’m not going to discuss The Postal Service’s The District Sleeps Alone Tonight as it also featured on the 2003 sampler, Infecting The Galaxy One Planet At A Time.

Daylight Til Dawn, All Night Radio’s contribution is widescreen cinematic pop with lush string arrangements & bouncy ’60’s Pop melodies & Beach Boys style group harmonies.

Comets On Fire’s Antlers Of The Midnight Sun brings squealing, scraping guitar abuse, art Rock arrangements & Psyche Punk vocals to create some truly exciting oddball Indie Rock. Pitched somewhere between original wave Punk bands & the fuzzy Indie of Pavement, I can barely believe I forgot about this absolute gem of a tune. Definitely a surprise standout tune for me (note to self: investigate Comets On Fire further).

Finally, to round out the compilation, my first introduction to the wonderful noise band, Wolf Eyes. Stabbed In The Face (an amazing title, I’m sure you’ll agree) is a hot mess of pounding electronic kick drums, synthesised bass, squealing guitar feedback & abrasive amp noise. Not long after I heard this, and while John Peel still lived, I remember taping their Peel Session off the radio & playing it until it was chewed up & destroyed. That’s right people, I was still using cassette tapes as recently as 2004 (hell, I distinctly remember making tapes for people as recently as 2007). Wolf Eyes were probably the first noise band I got into.

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