Smalltown America – Public Service Broadcast #10

Smalltown America mark their first 10 years with Public Service Broadcast #10, their 10th compilation CD.

Smalltown America records celebrates 10 years on the go with this latest Public Service Broadcast, a compilation of all that they’ve got going on right now. You could be forgiven for thinking it was all angry boys with noise after 3 songs, but, thankfully, it’s not. Glasgow’s United Fruit open it up, with a pleasingly low-fi, fairly Glasgee kind of sound, reminiscent of a kind of fuzz-showgaze half pop that used to be cool 20 years ago, and should, by the sound of it, be making a return any day now. Blacklisters and Event Horses purvey a more incandescent style, heavy guitars, pounding drums, all of life’s minor frustrations captured in wailing vocals.

Then it turns left, a melody driven pop ditty from Rams’ Pocket Radio, a man from Lisburn called Peter McCauley, with a clear voice and an ear for epicness. It sounds a little mid-career Ben Folds, maybe even, ahem, Bruce Hornsby, with its verbose piano chords. It’s hard to judge on its own, sounding almost anaemic next to the noise that preceded it, but it’s a welcome distraction. Daily News, from Manchester, have dug up the corpse of the Silver Jews, their laconic brevity isn’t without charm, but lacks anything close to an edge, which is probably what they’re after. So fair play.

Vvolves are Welsh, sparse and sound like noble, putting a brave-face on it, break-up music. Next up Our Krypton Son, a Derry native, home of Smalltown America, as it happens, is one man with a guitar. You know that combination can go either way, but this is pretty good, nimble, strong fingers reminiscent of Drake, a voice that’s neither the kind of forcing-out-a-shit earnestness of the average singer-songwriter, nor the hushed verite of the sensitive type. Augmented by some subtle, muted horns and swelling vocal this is a bit of stand out. I think we may be hearing more from this chap.

General Fiasco is a terrible name for a band, but that’s fine. Most bands have shit names. Luckily they’re not double whammy shit; the tune is pretty good, adroitly played, well realised, builds up to a crescendo that needs a slow motion car crash in the background, with a woman, her face streaked with tears, chasing down the road toward the mangled flash and burning metal, a fireman trying to stop her before she gets there. Roll credits, cry a little bit.

After all that, it’s a relief to get back to the hardcore. Battle for Paris are Hoover, Voivod, all the rest, strangled vocal proclaiming..something. It’s pretty good, and if you like hardcore, get into it. Last up we go all continental with French lads Mnemotechnic. It’s the Rapture, basically, but with the pounding disco beat and fuzz bass behind the wailed vocals, it’s an fitting end to the record. All in all, and excellent little comp, very much worth checking out.

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