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Various Artists - The Sixth Wave & The Quarantine Sessions (Big Stir Records)

16 May 2020

            The Sixth Wave 
Dedicated to the memory of Matthew Seligman

Time is a healer, and it will take a lot of healing to put things right after this pandemic. Society has lost its focus, and we lost friends, loved ones and idols. But as humans we struggle through with the hope of succeeding. Thank whoever-you-believe-in that we have music. Whether it is lockdown sessions, or even new sounds to bring us on a new adventure, we need that escapism. This set, dedicated to the innovative bassist Matthew Seligman acts as a 23 gun salute, with 23 memorable tracks. In truth he is an example of the loss music has suffered, we as society have always rebuilt, but we cannot  resurrect the ones we lost only honor them. 

As I tend to follow labels more so than trends, Big Stir is one which I pay close attention to. Mainly because of these unique samplers, as they always serve a dual purpose. The Sixth Wave not highlights some respectful talent, 25% of all proceeds also going to the Sweet Relief’s Musician Assistance Fund. So it’s a win-win for fans of music and musicians. 

There are some familiar faces across the set. The absolute definition of gentleman, Dolph Chaney appears with two tracks, “The Handling” and “Automatic Caution Door”. The first from his mammoth, and recent album Rebuilding Permit, the second a non-album B side. In truth he pulls his inspiration from his own personal experiences, transforming them into beautiful but stark songs pulled from his gut. Furthermore there is Joe Normal and his band The Anytown’rs. The man who is the promise Bruce Springsteen made, the working class hero who echoes the streets entertains with “Living With Me” and “Home”. Of course minus the acoustic bohemian vibe as The Anytown’rs provide a healthy backbone of rock and roll. 

Alongside these aforementioned artists are the UK’s Spygenius with the recent double header “Spite” and “Heaven Is Blue”. With  XTC covers from the acclaimed tribute album  Garden Of Earthly Delights by Glowbox and Tom Curless And The 46%. The variety of talent and great music on display is relentless. From the ignition turning Librarians With Hickeys get the party started with the brain candy of “Until There Was You”. The Popdudes transcendental melodie arrive with “Ridin’ In My Car”,  keeping the mood upbeat and stylishly entertaining. Jim Basnight’s cover of the Kinks “This Is Where I Belong” sounds closer to a passionate original. Though The Walker Brigade get the guitars cranking, with a magnetic vocal display against a thumping bass line. “No” and their second entry “Fallout” are both energetic treasures in the trove. 

There is that atmospheric gothic-sixties vibe from Paula Carino, her two inclusions are surreal beasts within the collection. Where “Door” sounds like the past, “Welcome, Spiders” sounds very much like the future. With the necessary inclusion of the Well Wishers two COVID-19 relief fund, with “We Grow Up”, the galvising of the set continues, reminding the listener of the fragility of society’s modern existence. There is two new tracks by Trip Wire, a band forced to cancel the recording sessions of their next album. It is unfortunate given the quality of both “Katie Says” and “Go For A Ride”. Also The Corner Laughs provide new music in “The Accepted Time” and “Queen Of The Meadow”, from their upcoming album Temescal Telegraph, highlighting how these guys are the band to watch in 2020. Again this is a great release at a time when we as music fans deserve a break from the bedlam of the world. 

1.Librarians With Hickeys – Until There Was You    
2.Popdudes – Ridin’ In My Car    
3.Dolph Chaney – The Handling    
4.Jim Basnight – This Is Where I Belong 
5.The Walker Brigade – No   
6.Paula Carino – Door    
7.Glowbox – Earn Enough For Us    
8.Tom Curless And The 46% – I’m The Man Who Murdered Love    
9.The Well Wishers – We Grow Up    
10.Joe Normal & The Anytown’rs – Living With Me    
11.Trip Wire – Katie Says    
12.The Corner Laughers – The Accepted Time 
13.Spygenius – Spite    
14.Librarians With Hickeys – And Then She’s Gone    
15.Popdudes – Daytime Nighttime Suffering 
16.Dolph Chaney – Automatic Caution Door 
17.Jim Basnight – Big Bang    
18.The Walker Brigade – Fallout 
19.Paula Carino – Welcome, Spiders    
20.Joe Normal & The Anytown’rs – Home 
21.Trip Wire – Go For A Ride   
22.The Corner Laughers – Queen Of The Meadow    
23.Spygenius – Heaven Is Blue 

To order 

             The Quarantine Sessions 

Wait until you hear about this. As I stated we find ways to survive, and these musicians have found an inventive way to continue making music with this isolation. Many articles were written over the past few weeks asking How will music survive?, the fact is we have to have faith in musicians and their ability to adapt. There are no borders when it comes to making music. Again, 25% of all proceeds are going to the Sweet Relief’s Musician Assistance Fund, connecting both these sets. 

The Quarantine Sessions is simply a piece of inventive brilliance. All these lo-fi tracks were constructed against a single drum track developed S.W. Lauden (Steve Coulter). The maestro took to his garage during the first week of isolation, laying down beats, recording them, and then he emailed the results to a number of musicians. What happened next is the results you hear on the album. Where outfits knitted together songs, around the drum track. It is lo-fi but that is the solemn magic contained on the album. Old-school, raw, intense, and organic. 

Kicking things off with The Suitesixteen, with “The End Of Something”. Setting the tone perfectly. From here, Jeff Whalen, The Wandering Jews and power pop stalwarts The Armoires keep the album fuelled. The explosive groan of “Yer Hell” by Jason Cutthroat is exceptional listening. Edging closer to heaven with the drum sound opening up for the good time vibe of Trampoline Playdate’s “Blue Whale Tranquilizer”. Before diving into the surrealist sound of Jason Pontius and his ambient “December 31, 2019”. Following a sliver of eighties style NWOBHM with Justeven’s “Remedy” which sounds like a recording from CBGB’s back in the day. 

The lowest of lo fi reaps high rewards on “Believe Your Art” by Os Tyler. Set beside “(This Is Not) A Holiday” by Gregory Vaine. A track that springs to life with echoes of mournful guitar and a chanting harmony, before the whole instrumental detonates with a dramatic tension. The album closes with the built-for-purpose “Dystopian Future”, an uplifting alt-rock cracker by Kevin Ridel

Music should always be created like this. The approach is a statement of roots music colliding with distortion. It is raw and unpolished, it is the sound of rock and roll. 

1.The Suitesixteen – The End Of Something 
2.Jeff Whalen – Magic Of Love    
3.The Wandering Jews – You’re Somebody Else’s Headache Now 
4.The Armoires – Ghost Of Fall Singer In Depopulated Griefscape    
5.Jason Cutthroat – Yer Hell    
6.Trampoline Playdate – Blue Whale Tranquilizer    
7.Jason Pontius – December 31, 2019    
8.Justeven – Remedy    
9.Os Tyler – Believe Your Art    
10.Gregory Vaine – (This Is Not) A Holiday 11.Kevin Ridel – Dystopian Future 

To Order