Various Artists – Head in the Clouds

Various Artists
Head in the Clouds

Dreamy Records is a pleasant little record label out of the UK that has a host of delightful, quiet pop bands on their roster. And with this album, you get a taste of most of them. Odds are most of these bands will be new to listeners in the states, but there are some real gems here worth hearing more from.

Kirk Lake is on here three times, the first on a kind of oddly intense yet quiet pop song with Jacques. “You Don’t Get It Now But You Will” is a kind of hurried yet moody affair that reminds me a bit of Half Japanese. He also ends the album with “Last Night at the Sands” and “One for Sinatra, One for the Road.” His quiet and odd style of pop reminds me of Mercury Rev in many ways.

Jamie Owen’s “Graffiti Truck” is pleasant almost to the point of dreaminess, with almost hypnotic male vocals. That contrasts with “I Wish I’d Been an Extra in Dan of the Dead” from Santa Sprees, what qualifies as the most punk-rocking track on the album, with a garage-rock, lo-fi kind of sound. Back to quiet and lovely is my favorite track here, Graham’s “I Wish,” a lovely, keyboard-driven lush affair that is guaranteed to make you swoon. Again Dreamy mixes things up, with almost carnival music on Izumi Misawa’s “Meet Me at the Brilliant Eclipse” followed by the ultra-slow-core sounds of “20000 ft” from Arco.

Ninotchka is almost silent on the fragile “The Sea Blinks Back.” The Autumn Leaves have more wonderful pop songs here, with “Why Must You Feel So Sad” being a Nick Drake-inspired but bass-heavy. Graham’s second track, “As the Time Keeps Ticking By” is more of a lounge-inspired song. It’s followed by Ninian Hawick, whose “The Minch” is 47 seconds of piano, and her “Scottish Rite Temple Stomp” is a kind of 70’s go-go revival mixed with Bis. We get another Santa Sprees song, the silly and bouncy “De Helpende Hond.” Sounds like a different band.

Chris Starling has a quiet, singer/songwriter pop quality on “Tender,” and Fariña’s “Twilight of the Empire” reminds me of a slow-core version of Hefner. White Hotel mix quiet, sparse beats with some odd, moody guitar for a really neat sound on “Twinkle.” Izumi Misawa sounds like a different artist, with a Japanese lullaby sound on “Léna.” Arco’s second track, “Sleep,” is a very lush but quiet track that is only piano and hushed vocals.

This is nice stuff. Most of these songs are semi-quiet yet original pop numbers, but there’s some tracks with a Euro-pop, lounge, and even carnival flare to keep things interesting. Definitely a label to keep tabs on.