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Thursday, 5 April 2012

Rhubarb Bomb – The City Consumes Us 2007-2012

Label: Rhubarb Bomb
Released: 16 April
Get It: Pledge campaign

Eighteen songs. All exclusive. All worth your time and your money. All from Wakefield. Not many cities could pull that off.

Outside of Yorkshire and the pop underground Wakefield is only known as the town that gave us The Cribs. Well, apparently it's actually a city, and has actually in recent years given us at least seventeen other artists who can get yr pop-senses tingling as well as any from the music capitals.

The City Consumes Us arrives at a good time to promote the local scene. Just in the past year The Spills and Runaround Kids have leapt out of Wakefield with acclaimed guitar driven records and are spending 2012 consolidating their ace reputation with more new releases. Both are represented here, alongside the aforementioned The Cribs who supply a demo of 'Things Aren't Gonna Change'. Originally the closer from The New Fellas, the piano coda gives it a feel that's more in line with their lesser-known debut.

Contributions from the other two however are both new tracks. 'Cylinder Windows' by The Spills sits the band mid-way between Johnny Foreigner and Hot Club de Paris on it's zippy intro, before a growling bass takes centre stage for an expertly driven rock number. Runaround Kids on the other hand contribute 'Undress', a song that carries the impression that it'll be RK inspiring future generations of Wakefield bands.

But who are the bands that have influenced this crop of groups then? Track one, for a start comes from the defunt Pylon, who can definitely steak claim, but overall it's an act from 4.5 thousand miles away who leave the deepest impression. But as the press release says “hey, Pavement were awesome so what's the harm?”. Indeed, Piskie Sits, Tiny Planets and The Old House all prove delightful giving the first half of the compilation a overall feel and sound.

There is the exception of course, with indiepopsters The Research and their never released b-side 'Make No Plans For Me'. Sad but sweet sounding at the same time, like any song by the band it can be taken on it's own and sound like their best moment. If this band are unfamiliar, it's best go go check out their videos, post-haste.

This is all great, but it's the second half that really provides some surprises. The Whippets song 'This Town' is a highlight, with spoken work verses and yearning choruses taking the foreground over shining jangly pop. Sad, nostalgic and reflective it feels like the decade we're living through. Better still however is St Gregory Orange and their graceful, uplifting number 'Nights In The Drunk Tank'. Lyrically detailed and musically in the same ballpark as British Sea Power, it's a treat.

Also worth mentioning briefly are the off-kilter folk pop of The Passing Fancy, Skink & Demoralised's '60s inflicted spoken-word/beat pop, the Arab Strap-esque One Day, After School... and compilation finale 'Jamie Says He Wishes You Well' - a collaboration between Mi Mye and IMP.

However there's one song that really can not go without mention. 'At 21' by Little Japansese Toy. Recorded in 2001, and only a demo, it begins gracefully as a stately orchestral pulse before becoming a storming torrent of sound that only abates to heighten the impact of the next wave. Rolling and crashing over the listener, it really sounds like nothing else. Bracing and dramatic are words that could well have been given meaning just for this song.

So well done Wakefield, but most importantly well done Rhubarb Bomb for getting all of these together. Local councils should take note – for this is how you provide an essential local service.

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