Various Artists – Hydroponic Mascara, Vol. 1 7″

Various Artists
Hydroponic Mascara, Vol. 1 7"

Hey, kids, it’s the indie rock compilation series with the funny name! With the Hydroponic Mascara series, Mr. Whiggs is dishing up some very indie rock. It’s not the heavily polished stuff that gives you the impression the band has been playing it for years, but it still comes across with hooks and a very endearing quality. This is what indie rock is all about. Sure, you may not have heard of them before, but these are some fine artists, with one exception, making some short but appealing indie rock songs.

Vast Massive Satellite kicks things off with a wash of heavily distorted guitar. The drums and vocals are much softer, an interesting contrast to the driving, loud guitars. The song has a reasonably slow indie rock beat, but it’s lent more weight by the guitars. I get the feeling I wouldn’t like it near as much without that noisy, feedback-laden, sonic guitar. Swearing at Motorists, the only band I had heard before on this album, has some organ-like keyboards as the primary instrument. It’s a short track with some production problems, and it doesn’t really flow, but I suspect that’s the beauty of it. It’s off-kilter and odd, and that makes it interesting.

Tham Nahem’s “Jonny 5” was recorded live. This one is a singer/songwriter, playing the acoustic guitar and singing along. Nothing new, but Nahem’s vocals are strangely endearing, not perfectly clean but just nice enough to get you wishing the song went on past the minute or so it stretches for. Magical and the Theremins annoy the hell out of me. This band, which is now the Noisettes, just make noise, obviously here turning some odd buttons on the theremin. No redeeming musical quality here. But it’s ok, because Nck finish things off with “Wrong Sky,” a very nice acoustic indie rock track with some weird vocals that sound like Nick Kizirnis is purposefully making his voice overly nasal. But only for part of the song. The rest of it sounds fine, a nice, smooth indie rock song with some great guitar.

It’s obvious this is Vol. I of the series, because Vol. II, on a full-length CD, is so much better. The songs aren’t quite so short, and there are more actual bands than singer/songwriters. But as far as one-person bands go, these folks all sound like they can make some great music. I love this style acoustic guitar and vocals things, because it’s different and appealing. Check it out, but most of all, check out Vol. II for some fine and very indie rock.