Over the English summer, Wakefield-based label Philophobia were celebrating their five year anniversary by releasing We Phopped Something in the Water, a compilation of various artists that have helped to define and establish the alternative rock label on the Yorkshire circuit.
Compacting a vigorous explosion of dirty guitars, pumping rhythms and summery vibes, WPSITW functions as the ideal companion to all of your summertime shenanigans. Philophobia’s collection of artists, although modest, have all the tools necessary to level the playing field and make a name for themselves. Bands like The Spills and their track ‘Friends With Girls’ provide all of the alternative rock dimensions as Pavement and White Flag whilst perpetuating the tensions and harmonies of Nine Black Alps and The Antlers. Vocally, The Spills project a ‘screaming Conor Oberst’ style of throaty cries that revert back to softer, more delicate timbres.
Tracks like ‘Hard To See’ by The Do’s and ‘Bone Head‘ by SWORDS hit grunge fueled poundings, as well as psychedelic stoner rock modulations, into bite sized packages of anger and imagination. Bands like Sonic Youth and Silver Jews come to mind when the fuzzy, radio ready guitars and raspy, screeching vocals vibrate from your speakers and into your ears.
As an entity, Philophobia’s attention to alternative rock bands helps push the album confidently in the right direction. The collective mixture of hard hitting guitar bands, like Runaround Kids, Fur Blend and Protectors help to maintain the vibrant energy and concepts that the label give off on the album, along with the fun packed pop guitar fiddlings of Piskie Sits, Jack Winn, Yard Wars and One Day, After School…
Despite the promising ensemble of guitar heroes that Phil0phobia provide on the album, the blend of the staple guitar bands like The Spills and Imp and Clandestine, amongst others, contrast confusingly with some of the more pop orientated bands. Although bands like Buen Chico, Shake Your Halo Down and Mi Mye supply a welcome dose of musical variety to the album, as well as highlight Phil0phobia’s liberal music policy, the mixture sounds confusing and awkward. The jump from Piskie Sits’ Strokes-style indie hooks runs ungainly into the piano and playful lyrics of Buen Chico’s ‘Love Is Just A Feeling’ and doesn’t quite feel in touch with the overall gritty vibe given off from the album. Similarly, although the acoustic ramblings of St Gregory Oranges and The Michael Ainsley Band fly the underrated folky flag in a pleasing fashion, their tailored sounds don’t complement the general rawness of the record as a whole.
Philophobia’s finest have painted a delightful picture of Yorkshire’s musical talent with this fine record, showcasing some of the county’s finest and most exciting up and coming bands. With some refurbishing and improved thematic focus, We Phopped Something in the Water wouldn’t sound out of place as Yorkshire’s alternative soundtrack to American Pie.