They say you can never go back and, perhaps even more tellingly, that the past is a different country where they do things differently.
Certainly the world that stood witness to the heyday of Sarah Records seems a strange and distant land when compared to the place we now inhabit, where music is often seen in terms of licensing opportunities rather than the precious lifeblood it actually is.
And yet here we have Fadeawayradiate regulars Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey following up two excellent albums of their own (with Catenary Wires and Swansea Sound) by celebrating the spirit of independence that still remains the driving force behind their and their featured peers’ approach to making music. On reflection, I wonder how many of the artists featured would still be dedicated to pursuing their various muses if they’d followed the ‘major label and bust’ route so common back in the day?
The very welcome result is that we have 14 postcards from the present sent by ex-Sarah bands, either in their original or new incarnations, all acting as a potent reminder that the desire to make music doesn’t evaporate when the world unwisely looks elsewhere.
I’m pleased that Under the Bridge gives me the opportunity to talk about the hugely underrated Secret Shine, and not just because they are another piece of my hometown Bristol’s music jigsaw puzzle.
Their contribution, Lost in the Middle is a super-sleek, elegant slice of prime shoegaze gorgeousness, guitars refracting into the distance, vocals softening the melancholy. Spend your money wisely and investigate their back catalogue today.
Then there’s the indie pop sugar-rush of Even as We Speak’s Begins Goodbye or the gritty jangle pop of Jetstream Pony’s Strood McD F.C. the perfect synthesis of the band’s rich heritage (look I didn’t say ‘indie supergroup…’).
The aim of the best compilations must be to breeze by, never bore and along the way to have you chasing down multiple bands’ recorded history, in that case Under the Bridge is a roaring success.
As for better or worse Tik Tok users enjoy their own take on twee and it’s related musical worlds, here’s an opportunity to check in with some of those who were there at the beginning with a collection of songs that avoids being a bittersweet exercise in nostalgia but rather forms a vivid restatement of the value of independence.