Darla Records, out in Southern California, has been cranking out its promotional mixtapes for quite a few years ago, collecting a few dozen new pop, electro and songwriter tunes once a season and selling them at ridiculously low, per-item prices. (This one is 34 tracks for $9.99.) Cuts are varied and not incredibly well sequenced—they seem to be in alphabetical order by band name—but mostly partake of an aesthetic defined by melodic glitch, twee and gentle power pop. Among the better known entries, Japancakes, just off its reimagining of My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless kicks in downtempo, slide-laced “Soft N EZ”. Mahogany delivers a trippy Ulrich Strauss-mixed dreamscape in “Supervitesse”. And California Oranges, who seem to be a regular feature of these things, gives us the summery, jangly indie pop of “Travel Writer”. But face it, no one comes to Darla for old favorites. This is all about trawling the self-releasing underground for bands you’ve never heard of. No worries. There are a couple of significant scores by low-profile bands. One is a long, mysterious synth symphony by Brazil’s Jupiter and Apple called “The Homeless and the Jet”. Then there’s “Switchboard Girl” a sweet post-new wave love song from London’s Future Conditional, that’ll put you in mind of the Human League. Cuts come from exotic places like Iceland and Hong Kong—and more usual ones like Brooklyn. Just goes to show you that there are kids with laptops and microphones everywhere, and some of them are pretty damned good.
// Notes from the Road
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