something cool SOMETHING COOL (Cher Doll)

Hey this is a cool collection of tunes, and according to what I hear form the indeipopsters that matter in the USA, it's a hit hit HIT. Just as it should be. Cher Doll has for the past four years or so been one of the coolest small record labels in the US, nay the world. With a sweet chic approach to packaging that's devoutly rooted in the recycling of 1950s and 60s imagery, Cher Doll has always shown that it's more than possible to put together artefacts that are fun, classy, and independent. These are important factors.

Unfortunately though, I don't like the start of the collection, provided by Sno*boy, aside from the fact that they purloin their opening line from a Dead Or Alive song. Witty appropriation aside, they just sludge along and I already wrote too much about them. There's others that I skip when I play this, notably the lamentably non-aptly named Lovelies, but that's compilations for you, and gee, I guess someone is skipping the ones that I love. So which do I love? Well, I kinda like Rizzo's 'Allie' because it goes 'hey hey' a lot, and that's nearly enough for me today. It sounds shrill and breezy when you play it loud and there's a line that goes 'you don't care that you're a teenage dream'. Enough. Beanpole do a neat Lois-like sashay and have a gorgeous flute type oboe sounding thing going on. Short and bitter sweet. Autocollants do a fake 'Blueboy' intro, like the OJs on, not quite mogadon, but slow-mo nonetheless. They overplay this with their post-Sarah fey guitar lines and a whole bunch of noisy shit going down. And the voice? It's a murmur in the dew. Sukpatch take me back to what was one of my first Cher Doll moments, courtesy of the beautifully flawed Neutral Milk Hotel. Well 'Loaded Stinking Fimo' here puts me in mind of 'Everything Is' for a love-sick generation. Or something. Tullycraft, they used to be (in) the often god-like Crayon didn't they? Well here they play this tune that was writ by some Stephen Merrit (is he the Magnetic Fields geezer?) and gee, it melts me. 'Falling Out Of Love (With You)' is full of dumb lines that you just adore for their corny truthfulness. It's a non-love song that plays the clichˇs for all it's worth, and is glorious because of this. I guess there's an original version of this someplace but I hope no-one ever plays it to me because the Tullycrafters have crafted it into their own. Go leave me to play it for the fiftieth time today.

Uh, Gaze make a great follow-on from Tullycraft with the swiping 'Peeking Shows His Ignorance'. Snotty pop with attitude and a killer pop tune. Reminds me of the finest Spinanes moments, or am I a mile off there? Whatever, this is my second most played cut of the collection on forty eight times a day. Incredible Force of Junior are more of an oddity here, and thank goodness for that. Blippy cheap keyboard sequences, sci-fi noises, tacky samples and a guitar noise that churns and falls over itself. Mumbled treated voices that say goodness knows what but sound strange enough for me. A hit, no less! Poundsign (can I just hit #?) are a name I always heard, and gee, they have some lovely chord changes and guitars that go wooosh like we used to love on groups like, I dunno, Slowdive and Ride before they wanted to BE the Creation, instead of just being ON Creation. Or Half String if you like, or Lorelei. See, I may have listened solidly to drum'n'bass for a couple of years but I still know my dreampopster names. Ah, Dreampop, there was a genre. Well, Poundsign are dreampop that woke up and yelled for a soda. Or something. The Sour Notes do the minimal Young Marble Giants thing a treat. It may not be new and it may not be especially clever, but it sounds great.

Third from favourite, well maybe tied for second is the very very wonderful James Rao, recording as Orange Cake Mix, using a drum track that cropped up on a track he did as Zenith 33 and decorating it with the pure pop he has such a lovely way with. 'When The Sky Was Falling Down on You' is gorgeous, lilting, no apologies pop. I'd love to take the title phrase actually and do an ambient remix take on it...that would sound double cool. And speaking of remixing, it's apparently a remix that we end here with, and thankfully for me an end that is far superior to the collections starting point. The liner notes say 'original version by Six Cents & Natalie', but I never heard that. It's gonna have to go some to beat this here 'Ret & Stare' remix though. This is spacey ground, vocals that float around your eyes and go a sort of mauve colour as they deliver a cool 'don't forget the Box Tops' line. Spaced pop, pop that drifts and loses itself in your mind, semi-detached washes and sparse echoes of waves. Beached music.

And so ends 'Something Cool', a collection which despite a few travesties, delivers enough on its title's promise to emerge with a Duke's Seal of Approval. A winner for sure.

Alistair Fitchett. 16.3.97