Album Review: Various Artists – A Sunday Matinee

Where would we be without Matinee Recordings? The Santa Barbara label is celebrating its fifteenth year of releasing indie pop, and have just released this compilation of track as a celebration of that fact. Straight away what’s evident is the worldwide appeal of both sides of the indie pop coin, the scuzzy and the twee, the joyous and the lonely. The label contacted fifteen of its favourite artists and got them to contribute tracks either rare, or unavailable elsewhere.

The album kicks off in typical style with the female fronted jangle pop of Australian collective Bart and Friends, with a short little almost vignette of a song, saying – there’s no place that I’d rather be tonight’, and its followed by Denmark’s Northern Portrait and Scottish band Bubblegum Lemonade, who both provide these jangly, c86/Sarah records homages, but both provide nigh of classic examples of warm bedroom pop. The formers new track The Young and Hopefuls particularly has this genuine warmth about it, that makes it nigh on impossible not to love.

Ireland’s September Girls contribution, Danny Wood has this growls guitar and childlike synth like which gives a nice contrast to their sweet harmonies, whilst the Australian band Simpático have this beautiful, slightly haunting electro pop feel on their song The Rays.

The legendary Would-be-goods then offer up the first cover on the compilation, with a sweet reworking of Martha and the Vandella’s No more tearstained makeup, And that’s followed by Charlie Big Time who provide another new song, One Step Closer to Enemies, where they bring their melodious Smithsalike brand of pop to the, well, party I suppose.

One of the releases were really looking forward to seeing out on Matinee shortly is a Lucksmiths compilation, and the Ausalians make an appearance here, with another cover, with a brilliant version of Jonathan Richman’s When I’m Walking.

Parliament Square from the Swedish band The Electric Pop Group meanders delightfully with the kind of tune that made The Field Mice so adored twenty or more years ago, and Scottish duo Strawberry Whiplash follow it with the scuzzy DIY of September Saturday, before Seattles Maths and Physics Club make like Hull for the Housemartinsy I Know its Over.

The Steinbecks, something of an Australian indie pop institution add anoth new song to the mix with the interesting and kooky Through the Curtain, which can hardly keep its theatrical tendencies to itself, and will make some b movie somewhere a lovely musical interlude. Another new song follows, this time from Brazils Pale Sunday and their In the Hardest Moment, which hints at Britpop before settling into something softer.

Former Fairways Clay Hips provide us with some joyous indie funk, complete with harmonised vocals and this bouncing, chiming optimism with their track ‘someone who wanders’ before the compilation comes to an end with Melodie Group’s first song in eight years Only Forever, a slow burning indie torch song that brings things to a close.

Unashamedly Indie Pop, Matinee recordings have provided the world with some wondrous listening over the years, and given a platform to bands like those featured on this engaging, consistently good overview of their roster. Where would we be without Matinee recordings? A lot worse off, that’s for sure.

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