It is rare that we see record labels actually bother to put any effort at all into their compilations and samplers these days. Most of the time, labels will scrape together the bare minimum number of tunes by a couple of their flagship acts backed by six to ten cuts from their less well-known artists and chuck it up on their website with little to no fanfare or care for the quality of the product being sold. This is not so for Xtra Mile, the label that brought you Reuben and continues to back the incredible rise of Frank Turner. 'Xtra Mile High Club Volume 5' delivers a whopping 42 tracks for a fiver. That's right: whatever your taste in punk, indie or folk might be, with such a high volume of work on show here, you are bound to find something new to get into for the price of a couple of pints. Winner.
This mammoth compilation kicks off with Against Me! at their thrilling, roaring best with 'Talking Transgender Dysphoria Blues'; a song packed to the gills with bite and venom from what is probably the most important punk album of the last ten years. It is a tough act to follow, but the quality on disc one is incredibly high.
You get more rock as Cheap Girls take on a Drive-By Truckers kind of sound on their contribution and recent signing 'Billy the Kid' turns in; an absolute emo gem. Arguably, the two most high profile acts on disc one also bring the guitars with Jamie Lenman putting in a grotesquely entertaining and terrifyingly heavy turn in the form of 'Shower of Scorn' from his 'Muscle Memory' album and Frank Turner slips back into a hardcore sound he has not experimented with since the end of 'Million Dead' on Mongol Horde's nautical 'Blistering Blue Barnacles'.
For those of you not in the know, Chris T-T has been crafting irresistible folk pop for the better part of the last decade now, and a couple of summers ago you may have seen him playing keyboards in Frank Turner's backing band.
Love is Not Rescue is Chris's seventh album, and fans of 2008's Capital album are in for a more sombre set of songs. The album opens up with the slow burning Nintendo, built on a repetitive piano melody, and Chris's sweet vocals.
This is an album full of highlights. Tall Woman is another melancholy piano ballad, with really sad lyrics. Chris is an unbelievably talented writer, and even if this is a slower and quieter affair than previous works, the stripped down nature of the songs really shows off this man's ability.
Elephant in the Room is another album highlight, and probably one of Chris T-T's best tracks. It is again sombre and downbeat, but the chorus hook is massive, the lyrics are darkly humorous and the guitar solo is haunting.
There are of course plenty of songs on offer here which aren't so downbeat, such as Market Square, which is a fun and cheeky plod through, with acoustic guitars and xylophones.
It has to be said that Chris isn't perhaps the best singer in the world, but his voice works perfectly on this album. He hits all the notes, and it has the perfect tone and delivery for what it is. The lyrics in places are nothing short of genius. The aforementioned Elephant in the Room is a prime example; mixing dark humour and contemporary references: 'I forgot to have a private life/put it on the internet and called it sharing.' Similarly, the album's final track Words Fail Me contains some brilliant couplets.
In short, if you've enjoyed Chris T-T's work in the past, Love is Not Rescue will be one of your Albums of 2010, and if you're new to his sound, it is well worth exploring further.
Album review of Capital byChris T-T
Lets face it, the pseudonym Chris T-T is never going to do a recording artist any favours. Not only because it's an alias that instantly conjures up thoughts of a jewellery-clad teen rapper from Hackney, but...well, it's just a bit s**t isn't it?
Surprisingly, Chris T-T is not what you or I expected. Owing more to political pop rock than cringe-worthy British rap, Capital is a mixed bag - often jumping from one style to another (in both musical and vocal terms). Sadly, The simple backing tracks (and that is exactly what they are) offer very little in the way of character or originality. Vocally, it gets worse.Chris T.T's grating adolescent variables enough to make you consider turning your back on British music forever. Lyrically, Chris isn't afraid to shy away from political matters, but he also lacks imagination - his lyrics coming across as if a naÃ¯ve thirteen-year-old boy wrote them.
They say "If you don't have anything new to say don't bother". A sentiment Extra Mile and Chris T.T should have perhaps considered before releasing this tedious, cheese-ridden nonsense.