In the past, compilation albums showcasing the talent of a local area were a prevalent and exciting exploration which certainly for us opened the door to a host of great artists and lustful obsessions. A less prominent opportunity these days, far far less as splits seem to be more in favour, there have been a few releases keeping the tradition alive. One was the excellent THIS IS THE SOUND OF SUGAR TOWN released late 2015, an ear pleasing spotlight on the vibrant DIY driven music scene in and around Bury St Edmunds. Now the people behind the album, again in union with R*E*P*E*A*T Records and Pure Deadly, return with Volume 2 and another large clutch of Suffolk goodness.
As the first it comes wrapped in the fine art of Kate Jackson and has been released as a download and Ltd Edition 12” album with all profits being donated to local charity Julian Support, which helps people with mental health issues to lead independent lives. It gets right down to juicy business with opening track SHE from psychedelic noise poppers SUN SCREAM. The quintet swiftly has ears entangled in a sultry melody, the guitar soon joined by imposing beats and a grumbling bassline. Part seduction, part intimidation, the track shares quick magnetism especially as the vocals lay their own harmonic charm over the heated and already successful persuasion. Offering one delicious hook and an instinctive catchiness, the track is a potent start to the album and introduction to the captivating outfit.
Returning from a potent place in the first volume, alternative art rockers CATHEDRALS & CARS offers up THE CONCIERGE for its successor. Like a fusion of PiL and The Wedding Present, the excellent track is a jangle loaded, rhythmically agitated shuffle with its own inescapable virulence in character and adventure. A post punk hook from vocalist/guitarist Jack Stevens simply hits the spot as too his web of melodic acidity whilst the rhythmic union of bassist Danny Robertson and drummer Steve Long easily infects limbs and spirit.
The first album featured the attention grabbing and now sadly demised quintet of Voter Kernel, four of which return this time around with bassist Bobcat Whittaker as JANET STREET SLAUGHTER. Offering up a visceral fusion of indie, punk, and noise rock going by the name of THE SENSITIVE SIDE OF BILL SYKES, though it is hard to pin down their striking sound, the band prowls and crawls the psyche, their salacious touch as dirty as it is invitingly warped led by the equally individual and off-kilter vocals of guitarist David Jago. In any collection of songs a few hit personal tastes more than others and this treat did just that with psychotic intent.
The broad landscape of sound within the Bury St Edmunds scene has always been one of its potent features and enticingly represented across Volume 2 and clearly represented by the likes of THE WILSONS with their Americana flavoured rock ‘n’ roll and the raw punk rock of THE CUTS. The first of the two shares IF IT WASN’T SO SOON, a track from their 2015 album Crow which has feet tapping and head bobbing in no time. There is an instinctive energy to the encounter, signs of a band having fun and doing what lights their own fires. A same feeling comes through their successors, a band we can tell you little about having found no sign of them anywhere else online but The Cuts track HOMETOWN is more than enough to brew a hungry appetite for their raw and rousing punk rock.
Side one is completed by firstly by a band that has already had our juices flowing with their previous offerings. GAFFA TAPE SANDY recently released their debut EP Spring Killing and for the album provide a track which made up part of their impressive first single Smart Dressed Guy. A boisterous and inventive slice of the band’s highly addictive garage rock/punk infused pop ‘n’ roll, L’APPEL DU VIDE, as their whole sound, dares you not to get involved physically and vocally, the song openly manipulative with the vocal unity of guitarist Kim Jarvis and bassist Catherine Lindley-Neilson as the rhythmic bounce of drummer Robin Francis guides the tiller. They are followed by the bracing and abrasive sounds of BRACKEN, a predatory and senses consuming tsunami of sludge thick, stoner ripe doom. Formed in 2013, the quartet has bred a trespass which invades every corner of the senses and imagination, SLAVES PT. II an uncompromising slab of that punishing pleasure.
No example of Bury St Edmunds sounds can be without the mighty HORSE PARTY, increasingly one of the most exciting propositions within the British music scene. With vocalist/guitarist/bassist Seymour Quigley one of those behind the two compilations, there is no surprise the band appears again but a crime if they had not and brought us the outstanding LOOKING FOR LIFE. Always a band revealing a keen diversity of sound, the track is a smouldering and seductive slice of surf coated indie rock. It is pure bewitchment, an enchantress behind the siren tones of vocalist Ellie Langley and an echo of the core imagination and quality within the band’s writing and music.
Through the resourcefully catchy indie rock exploits of SUBURBAN MINDS with SUNBREAK and the alternative rock fuzz of MOONMAN from THE VIRTUES, intrigue and pleasure is reinforced, the first of the two a quartet seriously whetting the appetite for their just released debut EP, I’ll Exist Again When I Wake Up while the second is a four piece creating a tapestry of sound with a host of atmospheric and textually potent styles from Brit Pop and indie to alternative and psych rock.
Singer songwriter JACK RUNDELL calms things down with his country/folk spiced track WICKED WORDS, a fun and infectious stroll with a grin on its face while SIAH teases the imagination with their compelling mix of classic and melodic rock smoked with post punk/new wave nurtured adventure through SUSIE SMOKES. It is an unpredictable and intriguing fusion of sound which works a treat within their album proposal; a fascinating brew matched in temptation by the closing punk lined grunge ‘n’ roll of TUNDRA. Lo-fi and raw, and increasingly tempting, VACATION (CHEER UP CHUCK) brings the album to a strong close whilst emphasising what a rich and exciting landscape can be found in the surrounds of Bury St Edmunds.
This Is The Sound Of Sugar Town Volume 2 is out now through R*E*P*E*A*T Records / Pure Deadly and available @ https://repeatfanzine.bandcamp.com/album/this-is-the-sound-of-sugar-town-volume-2
Pete RingMaster 19/07/2017
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