Labels: Deep Elm
Review by: Tom Sloan

So, 19 songs from the Deep Elm roster. Nothing unreleased? Songs that are already on other Deep Elm samplers? Oh right, it’s for a good cause. Suicide prevention if you’re interested. Despite the fact that many of these songs will be more than familiar to anyone who owns a few Deep Elm releases, it is difficult to deny the quality of the line up (although if I was in a band on Deep Elm I’d be getting slightly annoyed that all the prime cuts from my albums kept showing up on samplers).

Benton Falls “” like portraits on the walls. One of the best songs from the good “˜guilt beats hate’ album. Warm indie-rock verse parts lead into louder choruses, with the odd scream thrown in for good measure. There seems to be a lyrical theme to this comp, in that most of the songs seem to deal with being quite depressed, or mention the word “˜death’ somewhere.

Red Animal War “” right now, today, I don’t believe in hell. God I love this band. Captures the atmosphere of their brilliant recent album perfectly, what with the eerie piano general apocalyptic aura to the track. For those who have the album but don’t remember the song, it’s the one with the bass solo”¦genius.

Brandston “” on three. Fairly predictable poppy indie/punk from these guys. Sounds like Jimmy Eat World, or at least all those bands on the Drive-thru label who are compared to Jimmy Eat World. Fairly pleasant I suppose, I can’t help but enjoy those trademark harmonies they use. The song they put on the recent 3-way split with Camber and Seven Storey is better though, and slightly less generic.

Desert City Soundtrack “” sleeperhold. A desperate, piano led track taken form their e.p, difficult, but beautiful. Swelling, brooding, raw, fraught”¦brilliant “” the best band on Deep Elm?

Settlefish “” the beauty that corrodes. Wandering and fairly progressive indie-rock taken from their decent-in-places album “˜dance a while, upset’. Leaves me slightly cold actually, after ages of nice build up it fails to really kick-home.

David Singer and the sweet science “” table of elements. Quirky, acoustic singer-songwriter type stuff from David Singer. Relaxing and cute, but hardly inspiring. Nice strings, piano and little-silver-hanging-things-but-I-cant-remember-their-name-things too.

The Appleseed Cast “” fishing the sky. Pure Gorgeousness from an amazing band. This song is euphoric and entrancing, but I don’t believe for a minute that anyone buying this compilation won’t have heard “˜mare vitalis’. Absolute perfection.

Red Animal War “” hope. Old red animal war not as good as new red animal war. But this song does have that ability to prompt involuntary shouting/singing along and scrunched up faces from my chair in front of my PC”¦ “œwhat doesn’t kill you makes you that much stronger”. Yes I know it’s a stolen lyric, but it never sounded so good.

Surrounded “” better not be so. Ahh, I wasn’t expecting this! Surrounded here play an angelic little indie number similar to something a current British indie act might put out. Im sorry to use the word, but really very very nice indeed.

Cross my Heart “” how slowly we forget”¦Well, exactly. Fairly boring and fairly passé loud/quiet indie-rock.

Brandston “” anything and everything. This is better stuff from them. Still with the pop, but this sounds more like them, and not all the other pop-punkers. More indie. “˜Dial in Sounds’ is probably the record to look at rather than the more recent “˜death and taxes’ on the strength of this.

Lewis “” find your way. Delicate melancholy from another good band. There’s a really sad tone and feel to this song, and as a bonus it’s sung by a very good singer. If this description sounds attractive, you really should invest in their album, – it’s rather good.

David Singer and the sweet science “” everything I should forget. Thoroughly relaxing again from the ‘Singer. Glum, but strangely charming. His voice and the composition of his music seems to have quite a calming effect really. I have to say I enjoyed.

The Appleseed Cast “” Blind man’s arrow. The exquisiteness of The Casts “˜low level owl’ opus can’t really be captured in one song, and this is one of those that works well on the album but I cant see impressing a new listener as much as “˜fishing the sky’ earlier. However, it does get rather pretty and majestic at the end, and manages to convey a bit of that grandeur that follows this, the third track on “˜low level owl’ volume 1.

Slowride -sorry for july. A straight ahead rocker from these punkier types than the rest of the comp. Personally, the vocals are slightly too buried, or tampered with or something, but it’s a catchy number all the same.

Camber “” P. This track goes from ugly, to pretty and back to ugly again quite effectively. Camber aren’t as instantly listenable as some of their label mates, but they do enough to stand out. Listen as the singer does his Jeremy Enigk (spelling?) impression. There’s even some Sunny Day-type backing singing/moaning later on”¦do you think they’ve heard Diary??

Planes Mistaken for Stars “” standing still fast. An early and quite sweet example of Planes, before the whole “˜death’ influence took hold, this is despondently melodic, and surprisingly never gets loud. Ahh, I really like it though “” it’s even quite nostalgic”¦a part of me wishes Planes still played parts like this.

Pop Unknown “” lonely here with me. Endearing and warm pop, – a band I guess I never really feel I like that much, until I put their c.d. on and realise I enjoy listening to them quite a bit. As I say, a lovely, fuzzy, slow and very melodic indie-pop song.

The White Octave “” style no. 6312. People who know me probably know I adore this band more than it is perhaps warranted, and this is maybe my favourite song of theirs. A sliding guitar line, bass-led melodies, raw cursive-esq vocals and sad lyrics that are so emo it hurts. It even comes back all loud at the end and with the near-cried lament of “œI lost you”, provoking all those emotions that you rather you didn’t have. And I think they’re awesome.

This is less of a review of a new c.d. as a rundown of a load of tracks off albums that I already own, but it has to be said this is a decent comp. I’m not sure I can really empathise with the good cause it is in aid of, but I would imagine this is a good place to start for people new to the label. The fact is, I doubt anyone reading this is unfamiliar with Deep Elm, so they already know if they want this or not.