It’s hard to review a label compilation. Think of all the blood sweat and tears than goes into producing a song, then multiply this over tens of different bands. I feel pretty guilty that we can only offer a whistle stop tour, as with such low press numbers it will be pretty tough for you to get your hand son Top Toe’s complilation, but I take comfort in the fact that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed that tour.
Pertinent lyrics unite many of the songs on here, startling in their simplicity but acute relevance. The majority of the bands are Leeds based, with London, Nottingham and Cardiff representatives also popping up. A mixture of old (er) bands such as Just Handshakes (We’re British) and King Alexander as well as some so hot off the press they’re smoking bands, founder Dom Dean has succeeded in creating a coherent album that showcases the talent on Tip Toe’s books.
IAH have been fans of The Old Romantic Killer Band for a while now, and ‘The devil and me’ is a brilliant example of their dark and dramatic folky sound. They’re finding their way onto more playlists by the day, and will hopefully soon be revelling in some success.
There’s an element of summer on this record. Bear Driver’s swooshing cries in A Thousand Samurais is pure sunshine serotonin, albeit of a chilled nature, and the potentially familiar ‘Finger’ by Fists has a clash of sounds that unite to create a cocktail of Frank Turner blended with Justice, great for summer evenings.
The guys at Tip Toe seem to have a knack for picking out bands that overlay their simple beat with layers of vocals and capricious melodies that at once feel part of your soul yet startle your ears in their brilliance. Swimming’s ‘Catch the Currents’ rushes at a frantic speed that is reminiscent of the energy that Maximo Park once had. The constantly evolving and changing voice challenges the idea that the familiar feel that permeates the album has to mean domestic and boring.
Mid way though Negative Landscape offer their minimalist synths on the repetitive and hypnotic Ten. Whilst not my cup of decaff redbush tea, it does show that Tip Toe have more than one string to their bow and are evolving and innovating rather than sticking to one sound. The earthy prosaic charm of ‘Operation Daybreak’ by A the wonderfully named Just Handshakes (We’re British) song, lends an intimacy to the album, but the vocals are not strong, the female voice seeming slightly strained above the sometimes ska-y instrumentals.
The closing chords of Wolverine and the Beasts by Crayon would not sound out of place on Sgt Pepper, but the cries of ‘keep your head still’ evoke Electric Soft Parade. Out of the afternoon’s ‘This Ship Is Going Under’ is a raspy raw piece of indie with a sing along chorus that sounds like a band yearning for some excitement and release.
Dom Dean says that the bands signed to the label reflect his varying and eclectic music taste. Based on this compilation, I fancy a raid through his record collection. Constantly invigorating in an effortless fashion, the tracks on this latest compilation should give Tip Toe the shove to stride confidently into the spotlight.