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Indie Compilations & Label Samplers Indie Rock

Terminal Sales Vol. 2: This Delicious – a Sub Pop sampler

This Delicious is the 2006 Sub Pop sampler, & the second in the Terminal Sales series. I don’t remember this one as well as the previous ones I’ve written about, but I did enjoy it & I may have made a CD-R copy from a friend’s back in the day. I can neither confirm or deny this. Primarily because I honestly don’t remember.

Band Of Horses open proceedings with the elegiac, Alt Country of The Great Salt Lake. A high quality, polished, commercial radio production reminds us how Sub Pop doesn’t have a unique sound, per se. Nevertheless, there is a common, hard to describe, vibe that unites the differing sonic styles of Sub Pop artists.

Our old friends, The Thermals

As if in direct contradiction to the high fidelity production of the previous track, our old friends The Thermals are back with the barnstorming Pillar Of Salt from their incredibly ambitious lo-fi, punk concept album, The Body, The Blood, The Machine. The rough production enhances the fuzzy, aggressive guitar work & the impassioned, quasi-heroic vocals. An anthem for the resistance of the new American puritanism that The Thermals were raging against at the time, Pillar Of Salt is compelling & thrilling Indie Agitrop at its finest.

Oxford Collapse’s Let’s Vanish is cheery, upbeat & atmospheric. Melodic, fuzzy Indie Pop with the trademark New York hipster cool. Perhaps a few years too late for Oxford Collapse, this would have been quite a lot more successful if it was released during the immediate wake of The Strokes debut.

CSS

With the twin cultural forces of the early ’00’s Post Punk revival & the rise of Electroclash artists like LCD Soundsystem, Sub Pop were always going to get a slice of that pie. CSS’s classic Let’s Make Love And Listen To Death From Above uses a funky synthesised bass line, motorik drum machine programming & bored sounding vocals. The song is widely assumed to be about the Canadian Post Punk band, Death From Above 1979.

Always For You by The Album Leaf is lo-fi Indie Pop built around melancholic synthesiser melodies & plaintive vocals. Stuttering, glitchy drum machine rhythm’s give Alway For You a unique character that subverts the expectations of Indie Pop in a really interesting way.

Kelley Stoltz

Kelley Stoltz gives us some nice ’60’s Psyche Pop with authentic period production, simple vocal melodies & Beach Boys style harmonies. Fuzzy, psychedelic surfer music, Ever Though Of Coming Back is an unexpected highlight for me so far.

Chad VanGaalen’s Flower Gardens opens up with some lovely, bleeping synth arpeggios which subtly detune before the song bursts into a fuzz bass led Psyche Garage stomper. Stuttering vocals & guitar notes, modem noise & dub sirens all build up to create a unique, and raw, take on Garage Rock.

The Bank And Trust by The Elected is hyper-melodic, soulful Alt Country. Sunny Californian melodies & vocal harmonies change up the Country sound into something brighter & shinier.

Jennifer Gentle, Italian Psyche Pop oddballs, are back with the excellent Take My Hands. They’re like a lo-fi T-Rex fronted by Syd Barrett. Minimal & weird, just the way I like it.

Mudhoney

Sub Pop stalwarts & Grunge pioneers Mudhoney are in an apocalyptic mood on Endless Yesterday. Grafting Psychedelic melodies onto their heavy-as-you-fucking-like hard Grunge sound, Endless Yesterday is a ode to a thermonuclear holocaust on their semi-concept album Under A Billion Suns. This album, & song, rages against the George W Bush administrations bloodlust &, to quote a song title from the album, Hard On For War. This comes from the same place, emotionally & politically, as The Thermals track mentioned above.

We’re keeping it heavy with the return of another band I loved from earlier Sub Pop compilations, Comets On Fire. This is melodic, sludgy surf Punk. Dogwood Rust is drips in ’60’s energy &, you may remember from previous blogposts about Comets On Fire, Echoplex tape delay. Thick walls of dense delay noise provide an apocalyptic backdrop to furious lead guitar solos.

Tall Birds actually carry on in a similar style, though with a more Pop-orientated melodic sensibility. There’s an almost Glam Rock swagger to Internalize & a sense of Punk chaos to the rhythm section. There’s a few unexpected twists & turns, like the high speed run up to the final chorus, which feels like a different song entirely. Noisy, full stop ending is pretty too.

Pissed Jeans

Next up we’ve got Sabbath slow Noise Rock from Hardcore Punk band Pissed Jeans, with Don’t Need Smoke To Make Myself Disappear. This is dark, dank & aggressive. The vocals range from menacing sarcasm to terrified howling.

Dead Moon Night by Dead Moon is lo-fi Garage Rock. Like so much of the other music on here, Dead Moon Night marries noisy guitar jamming with psychedelic techniques & frantic pitch bending.

From something so melodic we move into much darker territory. The Driller by Wolf Eyes is pure, abrasive Noise Music. Screeching guitar feedback, synthesised percussion & doom metal screaming combine to give a masterclass in noise music. An essential artist if you like the genre. If you don’t, I imagine it is rather unpleasant. Luckily, I love noise music.

Revolve by Eugene Mirman is a bit of a curveball, to be fair. A 5 minute clip of Stand Up comedy. I don’t rally know what to say about this track. It’s pretty funny, but not really what I look for in an Indie Rock compilation.

So, overall, This Delicious is another great Sub Pop compilation.

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Terminal Sales Vol. 1: Songbook of Songs – a Sub Pop sampler

So here we go again with another excellent Indie compilation. And another sampler from the Sub Pop label. This time we’re looking at the 2005 Terminal Sales Vol.1: Songbook Of Songs, the first of 5 volumes. By the vagaries of eCommerce, I am currently in possession of Vol.1, 2 & 4 of the series. Vol. 3 & 5, I have found, though they are prohibitively expensive at this time. If you want to buy them for me, or have a copy you’d like to send me, then please get in touch. I know you won’t but I thought it’d provide you, my reader, with a little chuckle in these dark times. “He expects me to what?” I’m sure you’d be in hysterics at my baldfaced cheek if I hadn’t gone on to invalidate & ruin the joke (or is it a prank?) by explaining it to you. For this I apologise.

Opening up, we have the excellent Garage Rock shenanigans of The Constantines, who we also saw on 2004’s Patient Zero. Working Full Time ticks all of the boxes of the early ’00’s Garage Rock revival, therefore maybe arriving a year or two late. I can definitely picture them sharing a bill with the likes of The Hives & The Datsuns. Rocking those ’03 summer festivals.

A Frames, a Punk band named after an advertising board, contribute Galena, a spiky, aggressive slice of late ’70’s style Punk which totters on the precipice of Post Punk. You’d expect to find it on compilation devoted to either genre, to be fair.

Sleater-Kinney

Portland, Oregon’s Sleater-Kinney (named after a freeway exit road in Washington State) lay down their trademark brand of patrician Punk Rock. All angular Post-Punk rhythms, noise rock guitars & soaring Grunge choruses, Entertain is accomplished & exciting. They should have been way, way bigger than they were.

California by Low is sunny (as you’d guess from the title), upbeat Indie Pop. A minimal arrangement with diabetes inducing melodic sweetness & warm pleasing vocal harmonies. Ticks all the right boxes for an Indie band bothering the charts in the early to mid ’00’s. It’s a wonder it was never used on an advert.

Fruit Bats Lives Of Crime is artful, minimal Pop Rock. I was surprised to find that they’re from Chicago as I thought they dripped with hipster, New York coolness & artfulness. Some of their chord changes & key changes swerve across the alternative music freeway & into the Prog lane. These moments of uncertainty give this tune a character & identity I struggle to put my finger on.

Love As Laughter

Dirty Lives by Love As Laughter is a more Pop orientated affair than their usual brand of abrasive, lo-fi Rock and Roll. It wallow’s in the kind of seedy American background class that drinks beer from a cooler box in an after hours gas station. The kind of working class sleaze that unites such diverse bands as Silver Jews & Suede. Bet that’s a pair of bands you hadn’t expected to see in the same sentence. Love As Laughter populate this realm with a Glam Rock swagger which wasn’t too fashionable in 2005. Nether the less, it was novel & welcome.

Kinski take us back to the realm of the Garage Rock revival with The Wives Of Artie Shaw. Artistic, noisy & just on the Punk side of things, Kinski aren’t dissimilar to another Sub Pop band I’ve recently rediscovered & fallen in love with, Comets On Fire.

Italian Psych Rockers Jennifer Gentle are as indebted to the sonic textures of Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd as you’d expect from their name. Even the cod-English accent (& language come to think of it) suggests a musical anglophilia which is typical of my only experience of Italy. My band were invited to play at a British Beer Festival in Ferrara. The man who ran the festival also runs a British themed bar in the town, complete with Carnaby Street & London Underground signs. I Do Dream you is ridiculously Barrett-esque, even down to the swirling Hammond Organ & busted up vintage amp sounds.

Austrian Hippy Folkster, Kelley Stoltz, delivers some fuzzy, lo-fi Indie Rock with a similar New York, hipster vibe as the Fruit Bats tune mentioned above. Some energetic piano playing gives it a smokey barroom vibe, an Indie Rock drinking song.

Wolf Parade, with You Are A Runner, And I Am My Fathers Son, is the stuttering, lo-fi Post Punk sound of the band at the beginning of a long career. Percussion is the key here & the song’s unusual rhythm’s are as unsettling as they are hypnotic.

Chad VanGaalen

Chad VanGaalen, also at the beginning of a long & successful career, delivers the characteristic upbeat, lo-fi Pop which he’s famous for this day. Completely off kilter, Clinically Dead is an absolutely amazing piece of music which heralded what was to come beautifully. As well as being a musician, VanGaalen is multitalented & is also extremely proficient as a visual artist & animator. His production skills are also in high demand & at least a couple of albums in my collection were recorded by him in his studio.

Pretty Dress by Rosie Thomas is wonderfully anthemic but dark Folk Pop. This is probably the cleanest, most “commercial” song on this album & I would expect to hear it on everything either gritty BBC dramas or gritty Scandinavian Noir dramas.

Holopaw’s Curious is lo-fi, experimental Indie Pop music with one of the most unusual sonic palates here. Opening with a straighforward, clean acoustic guitar, it builds & morphs into an unusual soundscape of synthesisers, oboe’s and stuttering rhythms. This sounds way ahead of it’s time. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear this as a new song coming out tomorrow.

The Postal Service

Be Still My Heart (Nobody Remix) is the kind of falsetto voiced, metronomic Psychedelia I love bands like The Flaming Lips for. At once futuristic sounding & nostalgically retro, The Postal Service are a unique band with a unique sound which I will definitely be exploring in greater detail going forwards.

Iron & Wine’s Woman King is rhythmically propelled, downtempo Folk with a fuzzy, bluesy vibe. There’s a mantra-like quality to it. An almost hypnotic invasiveness. You’ll be whistling or humming Woman King well into the following day after listening to it.

The Baptist Generals keep the dark Folky vibes going Under A Cloud. The most melancholic sounding tune here. & probably the most minimal in sound palate. We’re treated to a raw, stripped back performance consisting of just fuzzy guitar & voice. Other instruments are overdubbed onto it in the second half of the song but the minimal feel remains, even when it’s wrapped in soft tones of violins & basses.

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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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Infecting The Galaxy One Planet At A Time (a Sub Pop Sampler, 2003)

As the result of one of my Song of the Day posts, I remembered this amazing compilation album which I used to love. Infecting The Galaxy One Planet At A Time is a 2003 label-sampler by the indie label Sub Pop (particularly famous for introducing the world to Niravna & infamous for losing Nirvana to major label Geffen).

Unfortunately, this isn’t available on Spotify etc. so I was forced to buy a new physical copy online. I ordered it a couple of days ago & it arrived today. It features a great selection of music which runs the whole gamut of early ’00’s indie rock music.

It begins with old-guard grunge-rock heavyweights Mudhoney with a song from what still feels to me like their new album (despite being 18 years old) SinceWe’ve Become Translucent, Sonic Infusion.

Ugly Casanova’s Things I Don’t Remember is synthy Indie rock with lyrics alledgedly taken from a stolen Modest Mouse notebook.

Fruit Bats’ Rainbow Sign is hippy dippy ’60’s-esque Psyche Pop par excellence.

Rosie Thomas and Iron & Wine are Lo-fi Indie Folksters, perfectly at home on Sup Pop.

The Shins Past And Pending, like Fruit Bats, owes a lot to ’60’s Psyche Pop.

Post-Punk Revivalists like Hot Hot Heat & The Rapture both contribute excellent tracks. The eminently danceable Get In Or Get Out by the former & the jagged, dancefloor smash Out Of The Races And On To The Tracks by the latter.

No Culture Icons by The Thermals was an early taste of the great things to come from the trashy Lo-Fi Indie Punks.

Michael Yonkers Band are like a ’60’s version of Johnathan Richman. The Murder City Devils & The Catheters deliver two tracks of noisy distorted Rock & Roll which celebrates how much the two artists love noisy distorted Rock & Roll.

Arlo deliver some Punky Power Pop with Runaraound.

Pleasure Forever come across like an American version of The Fall on Post-Punky jam, Axis Exalt.

Kinski’s epic Semaphore takes a heavily modulated guitar line & transphorms it into a Post-Rock soundscape with morse rhythms built into a swirling wall of sound.

We’re back into Indie Folk territory with Damon & Naomi’s pleasant squeeze box & acoustic guitar composition, Eye Of The Storm.

The Postal Service’s The District Sleeps Tonight is electronic, synthesised Indie Pop which is quite popular in 2020, but was fairly unique in 2003.

Sadcore Indie Rock closes the album with the melancholic near-psychedelia of Holopaw’s Cinders.

This album is a powerful artefact of the early ’00’s. Many of the bands on here are no longer around & somewhat forgotten, while others are well known & well respected now, considered classics & enjoyed by many in the Indie Rock community.

I really like the spacefaring aesthetic of the artwork & things like the baggy, hoody-like quality of the spacesuit the back cover astronaut is wearing.

If you can find a copy I highly recommend picking it up. If you cannot, then you can always make the tracks from it into a playlist on whatever streaming platform you use.

Until next time…

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