October 04, 2003

Various Artists "Stamp Collecting (For Beginners)"

When I was a wee one, before I discovered the joy of music, I was really into stamp collecting. I really loved it. My parents would take me to the Coin & Hobby Shop every so often, and occasionally they would send twenty dollars to this one place who would send you 100 stamps from the past forty years. There was something totally wonderful and cool and awe-inspiring about getting a bunch of stamps, sorting through them, and putting them in the book, all the while learning the history of the stamp as well as a little bit of American history, too.

Though this debut release by indie-pop label Secret Crush really doesn't have all that much to do with stamp collecting, I can understand their reason for associating themselves with such a smart hobby. Collecting twenty songs from indie-pop bands past and present from around the world--their countries represented by a stamp, hence the connection to stamp collecting--Secret Crush have gathered up some really, really good indiepop bands that you've probably never heard of. Though Sweden seems to be the most represented of all countries (natural for indiepop), you get fine, fine selections from France, England, Australia, Finland, Philippines, America, Germany and Brazil.

There's so much charm and sincerity and sweet pop goodness going on within these twenty songs, it's hard to not be hooked. Not every track is strong, but none of these songs are real clunkers. I'm particularly fond of the pop-rock of Honeyrider's "Sweeter Than Sunshine", Brazil's Grape Storm's "For Myself" is a real charmer, too. Easy's jingle-jangle "Kiss Kiss" leaves me smiling, Mid-State Orange's "Summer in Disguise" sounds like the Unrest song that Mark Robinson forgot to write, and I'm really, really impressed by Anthony Reynolds' "The Moon Will Never Lie." It seems apparent that keyboards are now standard issue for any indiepop band, as almost all of these bands have some lovely synth action going on, not that I mind!

Stamp Collecting (For Beginners) is a great little comp! It makes me smile, indeed it does. All of these songs are sure to turn that upside-down frown right side round, and I'd be lying if I didn't say that I've got twenty new bands that I want to check out. A nicer listen you couldn't possibly find, my friend...

--Joseph Kyle

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