Various Artists – Hydroponic Mascara, Vol. 2

Various Artists
Hydroponic Mascara, Vol. 2

A better collection of indie pop gems you’ll never find on CD, I proclaim. This collection of 22 songs cover the gambit from more well-known indie rockers Elf Power and Doug Gillard with some lesser knowns but equally good artists like Oval-Teen and Marmoset. This is all about what makes indie pop unique and why we, its fans, love it so much. And, so as not to overdo it with words, a sampling of what you’ll find:

Impossible Shapes start things off with a sweet, soft pop number that combines Belle & Sebastian with Donovan. Tobin Sprout have a keyboard-laden poppy track that’s simple yet charming. Elf Power’s “Spiders” is odd and synthetic, reminding me of some Neutral Milk Hotel type songs. Prime Time Centuries have a lo-fi pop song, complete with “do-do-do a-la-la-la-da.” Chris Barth’s “Houseboat” took some time to grow on me, but you’ll be singing this lo-fi song for days. Nick Kizirnis has a very bare-bones, almost folky song, and Catamount have a very short, very poppy ditty.

Marmoset’s “I’ll Be Happy When” is moody and atmospheric, that seems to take a few subtle hints from some of the darker Brit-pop and makes this one of my favorites on the album. Peter King’s vocals seem a bit off-key, but the song rocks along nicely. The Marbles’ “Baby It’s Your Birthday” is a delightful, throwback pop song with its own little groove. JC3’s “Birdsucker” is more of a spoken-word rant that does get a bit annoying. But Gregg Spence rocks things again with some killer, garage-guitar riffs. Swearing at Motorists contribute a rhythm-heavy, kind of fuzzed-out pop song. The Minders’ “Calling the Evening” is a nice, XTC-ish British pop song.

Vatican Static contribute a very nice, acoustic pop song that has a psychedelic feel to it. Then Doug Gillard has a Spanish feeling mix of “Gloaming Blue” that’s pleasant and atmospheric. I don’t much care for the noise attack from “Magical,” but Oval-Teen’s poppy with a 60’s feel “Headstart” is a great track. King Sauce throw out some psychedelic nostalgia on “Lollipops in My Mind.” Gwens sound like a Guided By Voices band with a little more rhythmic pop, a nice song. Fablefactory’s “Tobacci Heaven” is just downright odd, and Vast Massive Satellite have a nice GBV-style fuzzed-out guitar pop-rock track.

Ok, so overlook the unusual name for this compilation series. Instead, focus on how many great songs you get packed in one convenient volume. It’s soft and sweet or upbeat and bouncy. It’s some of the best indie pop music you’ll hear in a long time, and you might just find some new bands to track down and love.