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Various Artists: Continental Drift

Album Notes

Since they began, Fortuna Pop! (1995) and Slumberland (1989) have been two of the most reliable and consistent record labels on the indie pop scene, digging up the best bands from around the U.S. and U.K. and delivering classic singles and albums on a regular basis. They share a belief in the power of pop when it meets noise, melody when it's scuffed up a little, and that co-ed bands are usually the best ones. They've shared bands along the way from time to time, so it made sense that in 2016 they co-released Continental Drift, a shared EP that featured two new songs by two of each label's best young groups. Fortuna Pop!'s entries are the rambunctiously impassioned Spook School and Tigercats. The former's songs are among the louder, tougher sounding things they've done: "Sometimes I Hide from Everybody" has an American-indie '90s crunch, "Gone Home" is a perfect marriage of sadness, rhythmic punch, and epically strummed distorted chords. Tigercats' "Rent Control" ups the noise ante, coming off like an arena rock band on a shoestring budget, while "Sidney ST" is closer to the more restrained, classically indie sound of their album. Slumberland counters with the Philadelphia shoegaze quartet Mercury Girls and their Baltimore counterparts Wildhoney. Both bands adopt a more traditional noise pop sound, pairing gauzy female vocals with walls of guitar. The Mercury Girls' two tracks are the more energetic of the bunch with both "Holly" and "Beverly" kicking up enough spirited crash-pop noise to remind Pains of Being Pure at Heart how it's supposed to be done. The Wildhoney tracks are more layered and outright dreamy, with the vocals drenched in reverb and the guitars drowning in effect pedal backwash. "Horror Movie" is an uptempo rocker that really picks up as it goes along, "T L (Reprisal)" is a long, winding ballad that unspools like a lost Lush album track and ends the EP on a beautifully somber note. Fitting, too, since this is one of, if not the, last releases on Fortuna Pop!, a fact that is sure to bring tears to the eyes of anyone who cherishes the always interesting, often brilliant sounds they've championed over the years. Continental Drift is a nice send-off for the label, and it's sweet that it's a moment they could share with their closest compatriots at Slumberland. ~ Tim Sendra


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