So what the hell happened to FatCat? Time was it was a label you could rely on to come up with interesting stuff that knew no boundaries, crossing classical, electronica, folk and rock. Whether it be the noisy data-rock of Xinlisupreme, the epic landscapes of Set Fire To Flames, or the warped electro-folk of Múm, there was always something pretty unique and hard to pin down about the records they put out.
The sampler given away with the August issue of Plan B was the only reason I bought the magazine, so it was a real disappointment to discover that so much of it is crushingly ordinary. It kicks off with a Vashti Bunyan track from 1965 that proves that she was never cut out to be a swinging sixties pop singer, and despite the best efforts of Jagger and Richards, she sounds really awkward trying to do straight pop. The next half dozen or so tracks range from the forgettable to the excruciating (Tom Brosseau’s contribution) but with a large dollop of twee shared between them. Charlottefield’s “Snakes” at least has some life to it, but they strike me as a poor man’s Aereogramme.
Things do pick up along the final stretch. We Were Promised Jetpacks kneel at the feet of Franz Ferdinand, but they do have a bit of spark about them (and a great name). The Twilight Sad’s contribution growls along nicely, although they forgot to pack a tune. Max Richter’s “Return To Prague” is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it miniature that’s really too short to work outside the context of his forthcoming album of very brief pieces. Our Brother The Native’s “Augural Wrath” is an excellent piece of mellow free-folk. The blurb in the magazine claimed that they’d left the best till last with Hauschka’s track. And so it proves. “Blue Bicycle” is far richer and more expansive than anything I’ve heard by him before, and easily the best thing on a disappointing collection.
As for the magazine, there’s Kevin Martin, Philip Jeck and Leila Arab and a whole host of other stuff. For some reason, I’ve never got on with the publication, even though they write about a lot of interesting stuff that often gets ignored elsewhere and don’t seem to have any agenda other than “if we like it, it’s in”. I don’t know if it’s the dead hand of Everett True clouding my judgement!
1. Vashti Bunyan – I Want To Be Alone
2. David Karsten Daniels – Martha Ann
3. Gregory & The Hawk – Ghost
4. Nina Nastasia – Your Red Nose
5. Vetiver – To Baby
6. Tom Brosseau – True to You
7. Silje Nes – Dizzy Street
8. Ten Kens – Y’All Come Back Now
9. Charlottefield – Snakes
10.The Rank Deluxe – Tightrope
11.We Were Promised Jetpacks – Tiny Little Voices
12.Frightened Rabbit – I Feel Better
13.The Twilight Sad – Here, It Never Snowed. Afterwards It Did
14.Max Richter – Return To Prague
15.Our Brother The Native – Augural Wrath
16.Hauschka – Blue Bicycle