A horrible hack

Thee Vinyl Creatures - the Sound Platform - the Wells Collective

The Sun & The Silver Anthology

Year Released: 2012
Format: Download
Label: Battle - Low Transist Industries
Reviewed by MH on Jun 26, 2012
Ever feel like you've bitten off more than you can chew? Well, I certainly did when I downloaded this and it hit me that there were five albums in this Australian anthology. "Anthology" - that was probably the clue I should have picked up on. There are 68 songs on here...68 I tell you!  That's 58 more than would be in a normal album review....65 more than some of the EPs I have reviewed. Once I even did a review of one song..I was delighted when I realised there was only one track especially as it was an absolute stinker. 68 tracks though - this thing was going to dominate my life. I wouldn't have time to do anything else. Would I even manage to hold down my job? This wasn't a 68 track anthology of La Boite Diabolique or Mohinder which would be over in about ten minutes - there is even an 8-minute corker on Volume 3. I was struck by a fear I'd not felt since the moment I realised I had arrived at work with a pair of my wife's knickers stuck to a piece of velcro on the back of my jacket. That was last week. She is Australian too...maybe she was in on this and it was a conspiracy. Anyway, I downloaded this on 18th May 2012 and gave myself a deadline of 18th May 2034 to get my review submitted. Somehow I have managed to complete this miraculous feat of human endeavour and beat the deadline. There are five volumes here performed by three different bands. The name of the person who is trying to ruin my life is Darren Smallman - he was in each of the bands and this is an anthology of his career. He apparently wrote these songs over a period of twenty years and now runs a label called Low Transit Industries.

Volumes 1 and 2 cover Thee Vinyl Creatures who were around between 1992 and 1996. They play a style of indie rock that I like. My superficial knowledge of bands from Australia leads to compare them to someone like You Am I. I can imagine I would have been partial to this band in the early 90s when they were around as they sound not dissimilar to some of the bands I was listening to at the time.  I think they probably liked bands like Buffalo Tom and they wouldn’t have been far out of place touring with bands like Bivouac or AC Acoustics over here. "Fear Of Mediocrity" is a good pop song.  The second half of this volume is a bit messier but not bad at all. There are some good songs towards the end too like "The Second Friend" and "Devour You". Volume 2 continues in a similar vein and, for me, they are the best band on this anthology.

Volumes 3 and 5 are by The Sound Platform who were around between 1999 and 2005. This band play a more gentle indie and use strings on many of the songs on Volume 3 in particular. You can tell that he was growing up a bit more musically with this later band. They also get experimental with the aforementioned 8-minute song that starts off with almost 2 minutes of bird sounds. There is a good pop song early on Volume 5 called "Summer Something" with guest vocals from Sasha Green. Volume 5 also has some ambient stuff with samples and warped voiceovers. They get a bit more rocky on some of the tracks on this volume.

The Wells Collective were another of his bands who split up in 2005. They take Volume 4. This is a bit quirkier and they play melancholy indie pop. The first song is quite twee and reminds me of Belle & Sebastian. There are some quite bizarre songs along the way too like "Daydream Of A Monkey" as well as some experimental shorter tracks. One track is some dogs barking over ambient sounds, and there is even a Christmas song. There are also a couple of pleasant, bittersweet pop songs on this volume.

Each volume is a collection of releases, demos and unreleased material so there is a slight lack of natural flow at times but there is some good stuff along the way too. Thee Vinyl Creatures' Volume 1 is the pick of the bunch for me.

So Darren Smallman....you will have to try harder next time. I managed to complete this review without losing my job and I am still alive. It wasn’t even as traumatic as the knickers incident!

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