Review: Sea Monsters 3, One Inch Badge

One Inch Badge are now into their third year of their Sea Monsters thing where they put together a compilation and a bunch of gigs to go with it. All the artists involved are from Brighton – where every third person you meet is in some kind of band (usually two). This means that while there is no shortage of choice, it also means OIB have to wade through the never-ending, bubbling sea of shit that is the Brighton music scene. They then have to go pearl diving with no equipment like in that old Cheltenham and Glouscester ad that made no sense (the song on it is a fucking tune though) and, now that I think about it, glorified dangerous child labour. I just looked it up and apparently that came out when I was five. Jesus.

Anyway, here is my track by track review of OIB’s hard work.

Kins – Top and Turn

A fairly subdued start, but it’s a solid song (PARENTAL ADVISORY: THEY SWEAR IN THE FIRST LINE PRETTY MUCH). There isn’t much to say about the track to be fair. It floats along, but it still manages to drag you in and there isn’t much to fault it. Maybe a tad long and it definitely isn’t something you’re going to spaz out to in a club. A decent album track, but it ain’t no single.

Phoria – Red

This track (and a fair few others on here) stand out to me because they illustrate out how much Brighton has changed musically since I moved her five years ago. Back then everyone was wanking off to Luke Pritchard and sending him their discharge (feel free to use that sentence in your next rap battle). This song, with a simplistic beat and sparse piano chords, is the antithesis to all that bullshit. More considered, less noise, more substance. Also, if I’m not mistaken, they’ve sampled Feynman himself, so I was going to love this song even if it was a recording of a fox drowning.

Luo – Fears

This starts off with a piano sound that reminds me way too much of the standard sound Sibelius gives you, so I was a little put off at first. Within about 10 seconds you don’t really give a shit as some crunchy noise that sounds like Aphex Twin-lite appears along with some hints towards Ratatat and it sounds excellent. There’s even some glockenspiel in there and you can’t go wrong with that. Great track this, soundtrack to walking home at midnight after getting dumped while you’re slightly pissed, upset and angry. Probably.

Soccer96 – Aquarius

I’m pretty sure they’ve sampled a noise off Super Mario World in this, but I can’t quite put my finger on what thing from the game it was. I’m thinking something to do with bones maybe? Possibly when you jump on those Koopas who collapse and then reform after a bit. Was that in there? In fact, most of this song sounds like it’s been sampled from old computer games, but without sounding as geeky and in-jokey as all that chiptune stuff. A song I will probably take some drugs to in the future or annoy neighbours with.

Squadron Leaders – Guiones de Escadrilla

Now, I tried to figure out what the song title means. According to Google Translate, guiones means “scripts” while escadrilla isn’t a word. Escuadrilla means “squadron” though, so maybe there was a typo somewhere. Or maybe there’s another point to the name. Anyway, who cares? The song itself is kind of cool. It’s going for a retro sort of sound, but doesn’t seem to have set itself in one genre or decade, which can be good, but sometimes it can just seem like a bland amalgamation of different stuff. I’m also sorry to say that I couldn’t really get past the production on the track either, but that’s just my personal taste I expect.

Traams – Peggy

Traams here have somehow managed to channel The Strokes and the Beach Boys into one song. Despite that sounding like one of the worst things imaginable, it actually sounds pretty good. Nothing much happens overall, but it doesn’t really need to. It does its job and then fucks off with no pretentious faff-fucking about.

Negative Pegasus – Natural Jazz

I have no idea what a negative Pegasus is. I assume it’s just a normal horse I guess. Horse would have been a pretty shit name for a band as well. The track isn’t jazzy either. Frankly, I don’t know what they’re playing at. Enjoyable track though. Reminds me a fair bit of a few 60s garage tracks, but it doesn’t sound like they took influence from them. Plenty of reverb on the vocals, restrained distortion and a good little guitar solo in the middle. Can’t fault it really.

The Physics House Band – Abraxical Solapse

I have no idea what that song title means because neither of those things are words, but this a prog band, and they don’t give a shit about your boring linguistic rules. “Where’s the multi-levelled synths and broken clapping monkey toy beats at?” they scream as they throw your dictionary into the Universe or whatever. Anyway, this song is fucking sick (as usual) so go listen to this and attempt to deal with the fact you can’t play your instrument as well as these guys.

Thedealwasforthediamond – For My Sins

I’ve loved this band ever since I first saw them play a couple of years back and I’ve been listening to their latest album sample on repeat (recorded at Empora Studios, holla). This track is pretty much what you’d expect from the band. No faffing about with singing (because that is for pansies), just pure instrumental goodness which is the equivalent of being stroked with a pine cone and then being smashed in the face with it.

Written In Waters – Ligeia

I don’t really know how to describe this – jazz-twinged indie maybe? The vocals are pretty unique and definitely eek out over either of those genres into someone going all out on X-Factor and wobbling their voice over as many as notes as possible. Not to say it’s bad, but it does sprint around a lot which some will love and others will hate.

If Heroes Should Fail – Arras (ii)

Arras (ii) sort of flows along at first and it’s hard to figure out where it’s going to go. You kind of expect it go to some big drop all of sudden, but in fact If Heroes Should Fail execute what is essentially a song long build up to nothing. That isn’t an insult at all, I think it’s great. Would probably leave me feeling unresolved at a gig though and I’d have to throw myself into the drum kit to relieve the tension.

Broker – Pro Rata

I’d never heard of Broker before and I don’t know why, but this is the exact kind of stuff I like to go out, get drunk to and pretend I know the words of. They remind me a lot of Gallows (specifically Frank Carter-era as the singer sounds pretty damned similar). There’s a bit more to ‘em than that though, a bit more nuance thrown in here and there. My only fault is the lack of a double-bass drum pedal. I lap that shit up.

Gnarwolves – Coffee

From the name I was expecting some Scandinavian death metal. While I would have loved that, what there is instead is still good. It reminds me a lot of Reuben and bands of that ilk, which is obviously a fantastic thing. Don’t get much of the heavier side of indie anymore more especially since my awesome old band broke up. Where was our invite to be on the Sea Monsters 1 comp, OIB? Bastards.

Suave Debonair – Rule Breaker

With a chorus of “La la la la la, fuck you!” what’s there not to like? There’s also a mention of battenburg cake and Kathy Burke. This isn’t music you can approach too seriously or you’ll probably hate it. If you take it as it is, a bit of fun hip-hop, you’ll bloody well love it (maybe). Great sample too.

Rum Committee – Bar After Bar

I nearly wrote this song off straight away because it seemed like the band found getting drunk hilarious, but that’s because I was stupid. This song is fantastic, although it will mean fuck all if you don’t know Brighton. The track essentially details pretty much every bar Brighton has to offer (and also reminds you just how many places DrinkIn Brighton actually owns). The music itself is good as well. It makes me want to go on a huge pub crawl, but to afford some of the places these guys mention they must be fucking loaded. They also talk about conquering a waitress which just gives me all numbers of weird imagery. Also rips Madame Geisha too which is always a good thing.

DA-10 ft. Us Baby Bear Bones – Indigo

This is probably one of the best tracks on the comp and one of the most original too. There’s no verse-chorus-verse blah blah blah stuff. The song just kind of evolves as it goes along taking whatever direction feels natural. There’s some great samples on this with some good synth choices. There’s also some dinkus called Puff (of Us Baby Bear Bones) who adds a human touch. Certainly sits higher up than a lot of the guff bedroom producers throw out these days.

Great Pagans – Teenage Sillouettes

This simultaneously reminds me of all that American stuff that people called surf for some reason, like Crocodiles, and some 90s Britpop. There’s certainly something to be said of that drawling guitar noise shared between those Americans and bands like The Stone Roses and it sounds pretty good here. Luckily they don’t rely on it too much and there’s still an injection of energy so that you don’t feel like you have to take a ton of pills to really get into it.

Plasticine – Hard Being Strange

JARVIS COCKER!

So, yea, they sound a lot like Pulp, but without being boring about it. It’s certainly not a ripoff, but you can hear the influence pretty strongly. There’s a bit more to the track than that, but if you hate Britpop, you’re probably not going to like this. Either way, I definitely want to get drunk to it and heckle their drummer.

Loose Lips – Dr Evil

Any war slogan just makes me think of my favourite one ever created: “Slap the Japs with your paper scraps!”. American genius at work there. It’s kind of shame we never got any of that during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but oh well. Anyway, Dr Evil is a fairly straightforward indie track. It doesn’t take any risks, but it’s pretty solid. Make of that what you will.

900 Spaces – Eleven Pairs of Wings

Eleven pairs makes 22 wings in total, in case you were wondering.

The female singer definitely comes from the Kate Nash school of vocal style which, even after all these years, I can’t decide if I like it. I think I do and I just hate Kate Nash. Either way, this is a nice little electro-indie track that enquires after the whereabouts of crows and, frankly, isn’t that something we all want to know? There’s a murder of them back on my old street in Margate. They used to beat up seagulls and cats. In regards to the rest of the crows, I’m unsure.

Tigercub – Little Rope

Grunge, to the younger ones scurrying about, has been appropriated by Tumblr in recent years into something that isn’t grunge at all. I have no idea why they chose to use the word to describe their goth-pastel version of hipsterism they indulge in, but it’s done. Tigercub hark back to grunge as it should be. Following on from bands like Nine Black Alps, they’ve taken a lot of influence from grunge without just ripping it off.

Almighty Planets – Oh The Days

There’s lots of na na na nas in this song and some deep backing vocals. They probably should have dropped that rap sort of bit in it though. Other than that, it’s a cool little song if you like that sort of poppy hip-hop soul thing. The production is very, very clean and the music is good. Safe song, but a goodun.

Abi Wade – Heavy Heart

I have essentially fallen in love with this girl, whoever she is, since I heard this. The cello is by far the best instrument ever created. If you don’t agree I’ll hit you in the face with an Elgar recording you fucking philistine (I promise I’m more polite usually, Abi. Don’t judge me). This track is pretty minimalist relying solely on Wade’s great vocals, cello and a bit of percussion. Kind of what Us Baby Bear Bones would sound like if the world’s energy supply ran out.

Jacko Hooper – In Angers

At first I thought that might have been a typo, but I now know he is referring to the French city of Angers. I just so happen to have been there and it’s an excellent city. It has an albino peacock in a park, so that’s something. It’s also where Cointreau is from. End of lesson.

The song is a pretty restrained acoustic song, with some added backing vocals which sit nicely. Hooper’s voice isn’t particularly conventional, but he knows how to use it.

Holy Vessels – Fever

I’ve finally reached the end. Jesus. I shouldn’t have done this in one sitting.

Fever is a nice little closer for the comp. It drags you along, but doesn’t bore you. The kind of song that would soundtrack a scene in a film where a person is returning home on a bus after a long ordeal as they watch the countryside fly past, slowly turning into the city as the grow closer and closer to their destination with growing nerves and anticipation; they’re finally home. Yea.

Words: Joshua Boyd