Reviews - Week 57


Metric Mile

How to beat the SAT (cd-r ep)

I wish I was Unpopular

Who are The Metric Mile?

The Metric Mile are electro-pop indie wonder boys from New York using drum machines, heart-tugging keyboards and guitars as their weapons of seduction.

Or maybe they are closet, shy obsessives who, having had their heads blown by the late 80's UK independent scene, started writing songs like these, four minute love letters for the discontented.

I can't decide, it's both I think, starting as the latter and ending as the former. I'm thinking too much about this, I just know this record is too clever and too innocence both at the same time and I can't believe that.

The 5 songs on the EP are as joyful sounding as they are desperate sounding to me; I've often wondered how jangling strings across major chords could make that happen. It must be the vocals too, the slightly forlorn boy singer pinned to skipping, carefree electronic music. I must have heard the near hopelessness of his voice one hundred times in the last few days, but it's no less affecting.

As I write this I can't remember any of the lyrics to the songs or even the song titles properly either. I could look them up, but it's really not important, I remember how the sound of this record makes me feel. This is what's important to me, the joyful and the desperate, the clever and the innocent, dreaming and thinking when I close my eyes.

So, I'm dreaming and thinking of the times I'd be glad of getting caught in summer showers just so I could stand in shop doorways, take deep breaths and just listen because, really, nothing smells or sounds like that, does it? Or the times when a night out was worth it just because it meant catching the night bus home, ignoring the drunken rowdiness and watching Newcastle unfurl through the darkness across Byker Bridge.

This record has brought on such whimsical notions, thoughts I'd stored away a long time ago, secretly hoping they were going to happen again someday.

Ian Cowen





Hey, where'd the summer go?

Humblebee Records

Even if you've never heard of the Canadian label releasing this compilation, or any of the 24 artists contributing to it, its title and cover will give you a fair idea of the music contained within. Bringing together assorted performers from as far afield as Australia, Brazil, Scandinavia and the Phillippines, as well as the USA, UK and Canada, the CD is an enjoyable hour of insight into a select choice of leftfield indie - the challenge, as I see it, being to describe it without using the words 'sunny' and 'indiepop'.

Opener 'Turncoats' sets the tone, its sweet melody and "ba-ba-ba-da-ba" ending marking Canadian band Columbus as a name worth further investigation. At 3 and a half minutes it's one of the longest tracks on the record; clearly the idea is to give only a brief taste of each name and move onto the next before any become boring. This is a reasonable ploy given that each song differs from its predecessor, if only sometimes in subtle ways. Before you know it, you find yourself immersed in the psychedelia of the state of Samuel, whose offering 'Why' wouldn't sound amiss on an Elephant 6 collection, and the simple charm of the Film Stills.

It could be argued that some of the tracks here are a little too short -the Christmas Sweaters offer 'July', effectively a minute-long interlude - but that this is the album's biggest fault speaks volumes. Over the 24 songs the quality does not dip, the tunes are almost relentless, and there are plenty "Ooh, who's this?" reach-for-the-tracklisting moments. The order has been chosen well, with livelier, happier cuts grabbing the attention early on and more understated, reflective pieces such as Ultrasport's 'Sharing Secrets' fitting in snugly later.

A major problem facing anyone compiling a disc such as this one is balancing the representation of each individual artist with trying to create a semi-coherent album out of their work. This is tricky with as many as 24 bands to consider, and perhaps 58 minutes is a little on the short side, but on the whole the impression is of success rather than failure. It is a fair, balanced and varied reflection of the genre it documents. There is something here for everyone, and as the title suggests, it'll sound just perfect when the nights begin to draw in.

Grant Lakeland




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