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Velcro Mary

 

Various Artists: Now We Are Three!!!,
11 Gems from New Zealand's Lil Chief Records

[Lil Chief]

Lil Chief Records specializes in releasing only 100% orchestrated pop music from the New Zealand music scene.  This album pulls together a song from the labels releases in its first three years for eleven songs and seven artists.

The Tokey Tones set the delightfully dreamy mood for the album with Glitter and Paste.  The minimal vocals and instrumentation make it great for the evening hours, but it can feel a little monotonous after awhile if you pay too much attention.  Its best to let your mind wander, maybe even pick up a glass of wine and enjoy the carefree feeling of the music. 

Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks is up next from The Brunettes with the title track from the first album put out by Lil Chief.  Heather Mansfields deep and breathy vocals shine with a sugary sweetness.  To my delight, this group had two other songs on the album, and Heather also sings with The Tokey Tones in Love Done Me No Good.  In Your Heart Dies, Heather sings a duet with fellow Brunette and founder of the label, Jonathan Bree.  The two go back and forth between singing and talking, separately and together, while accompanied by a banjo.  Then halfway through the track, Heather says Its unavoidable.  It just happens.  When you grow up, your heart dies, and then the song takes on an optimistic tone with piano and chimes and an electronic beat that carries the song out on an instrumental minute. 

The Nudie Suits add two tracks to the album, first Hasten down To Music City where they pair uniquely eccentric vocals with a Hawaiian steel guitar for an infectious pop sound.  The second track is Harrang, which follows with a more upbeat tune including strings and vocals that border on cheesy but manage to sound entertaining and purposely overdone.

Shaft takes it down a notch with his lush sound and catchy lyrics sung with emotionally whiny vocals.  Most of the songs on the compilation, this one included, have good harmonization with lots of ooooh ooohs and bah bahs.  Alec Bathgate also pulls from the sunny sound with his psychedelic Broken Cup, and its obvious from his singing that he comes from punk roots.  The song ends with some harmonica and probably the heaviest guitar on the album.  But even here, heavy is used lightly.

Edmund Cake delivers the penultimate Beautiful Sleep, and Mr. Cake has a beautifully soft and charming voice that he blends with an acoustic guitar and piano in a way that would make anyone swoon.  Ryan McPhun and The Ruby Suns finish up the album with Birthday on Mars, which starts out with chimes and then leads into a somber waltz, continuing on for two and a half minutes before dissolving into egg shakers, organ and Ryans spacey vocals.  Then the beat picks up with the addition of guitars, horns, and then guitar again, which takes this low-key pop compilation out with a bang.  Lil Chief Records is a label to keep on eye on.

-Lisa Town
9/12/05

Lil Chief Records Official Website

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