Album Review: Alcopop! Records (Various) – Alcopopular 6: Highway to the Velodrome

Album Review: Alcopop! Records (Various) – Alcopopular 6: Highway to the Velodrome

imageAlcopop! have a reputation for releasing albums in unconventional fashions, perhaps one of the reasons why they picked up Best Small Label at this year’s AIM Awards. From the label that brought you Gunning For Tamar’s EP on a watch and Johnny Foreigner’s EP on a frisbee, comes perhaps their wildest gimmick yet – for the bargain price of £300, this compilation can be yours complete with an Alcopop! themed bicycle. Fortunately, it’s available for digital download for those of us who already have bikes/most of their marbles, and not only showcases some new Alcopop! names, but brings us some of the best in up-and-coming British music.

The compilation kicks off with rather more of a punk flavour than one might expect of Alcopop! Records, with Max Raptor kicking things off in fine fettle with ‘The King Is Dead’ (think a more British Billy Talent), followed by Gnarwolves’ ‘Tongue Surfer’, a band so ubiquitous you’d have to be hiding at the bottom of the Marianas Trench not to have heard them by now. However, the next two offerings may not be so familiar to the ears of the wider public – Jaws provide a fresh lilt on the kind of style Everything Everything peddle, and two-piece Playlounge thrash through ‘Cream Soda’, sounding like an even brattier version of the aforementioned Johnny Foreigner.

<a href=“http://alcopop.bandcamp.com/album/alcopopular-6-highway-to-the-velodrome” data-mce-href=“http://alcopop.bandcamp.com/album/alcopopular-6-highway-to-the-velodrome”>Alcopopular 6 (Highway to the Velodrome) by Birdskulls</a>

imageThe compilation continues with the psychedelic Future Of The Left-isms of The Wytches, closely followed by one of the most promising new bands around, Wakefield’s The Spills – a hot tip if you’re into lo-fi indie and early Weezer. Axes follow, and while their recorded material is phenomenal, it doesn’t compare to the joy of seeing them live – possibly the most fun you can have in half an hour, including, y’know, that. The punkier vibes of the early part of the compilation are brought back with the excellent Birdskulls.Their grunge-y vibes are continued by Radstewart, the new Alcopop! signings that should assuage (slightly) those dismayed by the upcoming Stagecoach disbanding. As excellently named as the preceding band, Menace Beach’s surf-pop, whilst not the most original, certainly meets expectations set by such a brilliant moniker.

Despite this compilation’s predominate quality, there are bound to be some lowlights – ironically, the bands that have most “hype” behind them (Gnarwolves, Night Engine & Crushed Beaks) turn out to be the most forgettable on the compilation, and pale in comparison to more leftfield efforts, such as the soulful James Blake-isms of Pet Moon. As with the previous 5 in this series, this highlights some of the new bands in the general sphere of the Alcopop! family you may have missed this year unless your finger is ridiculously on the pulse, and may provide you with a whole host of new bands to check out. In the era of Spotify and Last.FM, this keeps on fighting the good fight for the compilation, so get on yer bike and check this out.

4/5

‘Alcopopular 6: Highway to the Velodrome’ by Alcopop! Records is available now on Alcopop! Records.

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Words by Ollie Connors