17 Jul 2015

Various Artists / Hip & Miss (album review)

Hip & Miss cover art

Hip & Miss is a free compilation available now from the little DIY label Street Hassle (you can save yourself the bother of reading this review by downloading it here and putting it on your iPod). It's twelve songs long, spans just under 40 minutes, and collects fragments from all around the UK (and in one case, France) that, whilst covering a range of genres, are firmly routed in messy guitar music. Although it's very fragmented; polished studio songs, complimented by stripped back acoustic songs, with a couple of rough demos thrown into the mix; it feels like a really complete package, and it's genuinely a really enjoyable listen.

Opening with one of Dark Willow's incredibly poetic grunge songs, Scum, you're sent wafting down into a spiral of (albeit dreamy) angst and self-depreciation. It's one of those rare tracks where almost rapped poetry is complimented brilliantly by some guitar noodling. The whole teenage angst thing isn't only strong here, because it continues through almost every other song, and it makes the whole of Hip & Miss feel like a culty film soundtrack.

The compilation does mix in a few other genres; the unnerving electronica of Parisian Tamara Goukassova takes you by surprise on first listen, and Monk Breton's O You nearly feels out of place with it's classical guitar (although because it's the last track it's kinda like a nice sunset ending), but ULTIMATELY the strength of this set of songs lies in the solid indie guitar efforts...

Bleached Blonde's catchy Strokesian jangle-pop is almost classic sounding, and has a real energy to it, and Beds in Parks' I'm A Warhol is a piece of brilliant, lively lo-fi pop a la The Velvet Underground - but the highlight of the whole comp comes from Double Denim, a Bristol band, whose Living In A Dream is just the perfect mixture of shoegaze and jangly indie pop, sounding quite a lot like Beach Fossils or Wild Nothing.

That said, almost everything on this thing is brilliant in it's own way; sure, Frank's Shallow End is a rough, thrashy cut that sounds like it's been recorded in a cave, but underneath the mesmeric noise it's a genuinely brilliant pop song. And sure, I'm not really at all into the Tamara Goukassova or Porridge Radio tracks individually, but as a complete package, there are enough brilliant tracks for you to listen all the way through with ease (and get a hell of a lot of enjoyment on the way).

Hip & Miss is a compilation that will resonate hugely with it's (probably) teenage fanbase, and is a hugely cohesive collection of songs. Some tracks are only alright, but let's be honest, if you can't get some enjoyment out of Brolan's Liars-like Your Body Will Be Freed or Double Denim's dreamy thrash music then you're completely doomed.


(written by Calum Cashin)