Various – The Ninth Wave
Brand new entry in the run of compilations drawn from Big Stir’s Digital Singles Series, with contributions from mainstays Dolph Chaney, Irene Peña and The Brothers Steve among others. Ian Canty sees if he ends up on cloud nine…
The Ninth Wave collects the Big Stir Digital Singles Series releases from August to October last year and features some familiar names to followers of these compilation sets, along with introducing, to me at least, newer acts. A keen taste is deployed as ever with Big Stir and the main thing all these artists have in common is producing wonderful pop for the 21st century. They eschew all the kind of gimmicks that might be implied by the term “pop music” and just get on with producing sounds that deserve to be bursting out of radios all over the land. This collection breaks down to bands/singers providing both a and b sides, as is the norm with all of these Wave LPs. That is, apart from Athanor, who finish the set with with a gleaming Approximately Eternity, where they take a pinch of The Kinks’ Til the End Of The Day and then create something new and marvellously mysterious with it.
The excellent Dolph Chaney sets things into motion on The Ninth Wave with the winning and wry 60s-influenced pop of Be My Old Fart. If I Write It Down, his other offering, is an example of his tasteful way with an up-tempo rocker. Cornwall’s very own The Viewers balance heavy guitar riffage and a stomping beat with mouth-wateringly delicate sections on Beautiful. It works like a dream and their flipside It’s My Time is a great slab of 60s folk pop with fine harmonies. That’s two reasons to check out this five piece in more detail.
Blake Jones follows with the charming The First Song Of Summer, taken from the his EP The Homebound Tapes (reviewed here). On his second track Take A Look At The Stars he is backed by The Trike Shop. This is great modern psych pop, revitalising the form in a snappy and enjoyable manner. Hailing from Minnesota The Persian Leaps offer up Pan, a chiming and fuzzy gem with a mod pop structure. Both this and their b side Chamberlain add up to some powerful and addictive fun.
Mike Daly & The Planets turn the traditional love song on its head in a neat fashion on their Falling Out Of Love Song. Mike and his band made me think of Nick Lowe circa the Stiff era on Star and that’s a comparison not to be bandied about lightly, but an apt one here. Nick Frater covers Gilbert O’Sullivan’s Alone Again (Naturally) with skill that draws it back from the mainstream and allows the song’s essential melancholic beauty to shine out. He also gives the listener Let’s Hear It For Love from his recent Fast & Loose Collection (reviewed here)
The Summer Place and It Must Be Summer by Irene Peña are an ice-cool pair of top-rate pop music melodies embellished with her effortlessly cool vocal delivery. They’re perfectly judged and performed with a real allure that drew me in. Two versions of The Brothers Steve’s Beat Generation Poet Turned Assassin feature on The Ninth Wave, abridged and unabridged. The tune was included on their recent album #1 (reviewed here) and in whatever form it is still a bobby-dazzler of the first order.
Slowing things down a touch is Rosie Abbott, who furnish us with a couple of strange pop instant classics in Hold On and I Don’t Mean To Block Your Sunlight. There are some nice light touches of psychedelia on the latter, with the former being a sparser but just as satisfying affair. She’s clearly a real talent to keep an eye on. Jim Basnight’s pair of tracks Prince Jones Davies Suite and Best Lover In The World (from the Not Changing LP, reviewed here) show that as well as being a dab hand at no-holds barred rockers, he is also at home when something more subtle is called for. Taking the music right down also allows him to display the passion in his voice too.
Finally, David Brookings appears with a jolly folk rock tune that belies the sombre title of Livin’ Through The Plague. He also sings All I Love Is Rock ‘N’N Roll, which delivers the sheer glee and excitement of the best of that music with true élan. The Ninth Wave doesn’t really have one dud track to speak of, a great selection that instantly gripped this listener, feeling very much like the sound of good times to come.
If you thought by the time we got nine volumes into this series of compilations we would be getting down to slimmer pickings, well think again. The Ninth Wave is wall to wall great pop music, the type of sound that makes one heart jump, swiftly to be followed by the rest of the body. An album, built up of singles that came out in the summer that never was of 2020, that could make 2021 summertime go with a bang, should one allow it. If The Ninth Wave is anything to go by the forecast is for a hot one too, musically speaking at least.
All words by Ian Canty – see his author profile here