Various Artists – Mystique: A Sealed Fate Compilation

Various Artists
Mystique: A Sealed Fate Compilation

Sealed Fate is becoming one of my favorite indie rock labels, despite the fact that the name of the label raises connotations of death metal. Just listen to this, a sampler of bands both on and not on their label, all to raise money for the AIDS Action Committee. This is indie rock today, heavily pop influenced and with that British pop sensibilities that we all love so much. The bands on here are so good, I’m going to run down them individually.

Beachwood Sparks’ “Sweet Julie Ann” kicks things off with some haunting squeals before breaking into the heavily reverbed, sweetly wonderful rock and finishing with beautiful acoustic guitar. Soft, with plenty of guitar and string squeals and beautiful, 60’s-influenced vocals make this song amazing.
“Secret’s Out” from Purple Ivy Shadows is an interesting indie rock song, with some pretty and catchy indie rock but some heavily accented southern vocals. Makes for an interesting combination.
Garlands play some very British-sounding rock on “Bird on the Make,” but not the cheesy Oasis rock. It’s bouncing, pretty guitar pop with some amazing vocals, sorta sounding like a sped up and less moody Cure and more moody Belle & Sebastian.
Astrud are, I believe, from Spain. They play heavily sampled pop, or rock-related techno, take your pick. It’s all foreign with lots of sampled piano and guitar and bleeps and boops, but it comes together for a catchy song.
And then there’s The Fly Seville, my favorite band on Sealed Fate and one of my favorite bands right now. “The Taj Mahal of America” is just beautiful indie pop, with moody, heavy drums, soft violin, the most amazing and perfect male vocals, and a wonderfully catchy song structure that almost makes you melt. Worth getting for this song alone, but buy their album!
The Minstrels are another foreign band (French, it sounds like). This one doesn’t work as well, with too much organ. And the vocals are mixed too far forward, just sounding pretentious to me. But maybe it would be beautiful if I knew French. The female vocals are pretty.
Sleepyhead is another excellent Sealed Fate band, and “Pop Quiz” is another excellent indie rock song. The music is relatively standard, but the vocals are awesome, and the vocal range is pretty impressive as well.
Telegenic play some pretty acoustic pop that reminds me of the Red House Painters, pretty and soft and soothing.
The Push Kings’ “The Last Summer” reminds me of an early Jackson Five song, but it’s so awesome, with grooves and excellent vocals, you’ve got to hear it, handclaps and all, to love it!
“Egyptian Funk” from Dopo Yume with MC Gnome is pretty fun hip-hop, most of it slowed down to sound odd, and there’s a neat keyboard tune floating throughout the background. It really does fit here!
Future Bible Heroes (great name for a band) have a remix (by Saffs of Cornershop) of “Lonely Days,” a pretty, synth-heavy pop number that sounds heavily influenced by the synth pop of Europe. Pretty and a bit of a groove. Reminds me of Girlfrendo a bit.
The Tyde’s “Doll of the Valley” is inoffensive but rather unoriginal, not a standout track by any means. But it has a nice feel to it, and it’s definitely more pretty indie pop.
Honeybunch play some Belle & Sebastian-type pop, with keyboards as a major instrument and pretty vocals again. Again not wholly original, but the guitar here is amazing, and it’s definitely a pretty, 60’s influenced pop song.
Barbara Brousal doesn’t really fit here, but this is a lovely female singer with acoustic guitar song. Sounds like a slow Ani Difranco song or perhaps Paula Cole without the other instruments. Pretty.
And finally The Essex Green, who I’ve been hearing a lot about lately. “Orchardton” is an odd, almost folky-influenced pop song. This brings me back to XTC and similar alternative rock. This is an interesting pop band that’s worth checking out.
Well, I think I’ve said it all already, but this is one of the best indie rock/pop comps I’ve heard in a long long time. It’s all pretty, sweet, and amazing stuff, and most of it you’ve probably never heard before. So buy it, and help out a good cause.