"Dancing at the disco bumper to bumper, wait a minute where's me jumper?" Twenty plus years on and it would appear little has changed at the Indie disco. The songs maybe slightly less humorous but white boys with guitars, joined very occasionally by the odd cool girl, or a stirring synth hook, still fill the floor. As the coolest, sweatiest, cutting edge clubs of the country have been washed down following their nightly marinade of beer and....(I think we'll leave it there) the entrenched DNA of the preceding years music still hangs heavy. From the Sex Pistols and the Clash, through Theatre Of Hate, Killing Joke, The Smiths, New Order, Blur and Nirvana the Indie disco crowd forever changes whilst essentially remaining the same.
How much Ian Curtis, provider of the labels moniker, would appreciate this latest compilation is open to debate. The music is true, often evocative, occasionally challenging but not that distinctive or memorable. As a collection it works well, has a decent flow and represents some very promising, largely new or relatively unheard of, bands and artists all on the Dance To The Radio roster either since its inception 5 years ago or as a new signing. This celebratory album of 13 tracks is surprising in that some of the labels big hitters are not present. If you were expecting Pigeon Detectives or The Grammatics then prepare for disappointment. The Leeds based label, about to showcase some of their burgeoning talent on the Introducing stage at the Leeds festival have plumped for some less obvious choices.
AWY FRM U, by Hoberhofer, kicks things off in fine form, providing a suitable urge to throw caution to the wind, abandon all inhibition, and reawaken the need to chicken dance the night away. It has an oh so catchy chorus complete with obligatory jangly guitars as well as wonderfully worked in whistling. The Ladytron leaning track Ultimate Satisfaction by Bear In Heaven, from their rather disappointing recent album, Beast Rest Forth Mouth, follows on nicely. Club Smith lightens the tension slightly with Lament whilst the Tree Trapped Tigers, with 11, attempt to combine speed guitars, synths, keys and bass beats in an all but instrumental affair.
The talent turns up on track #5. I Like Trains take on The Smiths Please Please Please, with When We Were Kings. A lyrical delight for Indie shoe gazers everywhere..."I want to believe in you, I want you to lose me in half truths and alibis. Feeling is, feeling is what I remember from way back when, way back when we were kings..." Bear Hands ramp it up once more with a nearly angry 'High Society' before (The) Tony Castles calm things back down with some skippy, happy electro beats on 'Adequate Sheen'. Some potent bass lines, Vampire Weekend guitar and, at last I hear you cry, a female vocal see Just Hold Hands (We're British) shift the emphasis slightly with the subtleties of Hold Your Breathe. The sounds of This Mortal Coil, Felt, Dead Can Dance and The Cocteaus are revisited by Paul Thomas Saunders on The Death Of A Sports Personality before a very poor version of Third Attempt by Rose Elinor Dougall hits your ears. Why this version would have been chosen is beyond me after hearing her Without Why album version. Other than to keep the BPM up to the Indie disco norm there is no reasonable explanation. (If you like the album version and are even remotely curious, don't, just don't). Blood Oranges finally deliver some wry lines to make you at least half smile on the dueted vocal exchanges amid This Is Not About Kat (Convincing Everyone) before The Sunshine Underground close out the album, rather weakly, with We've Always Been Your Friends.
Still Occupied Though You Forgot is a decent enough collection but with a limited appeal. As a vehicle, partially released, to support Record Store Day it showcases the label very well and as such draws your attention to bands who may other wise pass you by or go unnoticed. As with any compilation there are usually a few tunes in there that you will inevitably want to skip past, Lions by Honour Before Glory, is definitely one of mine but conversely there will also be tracks that delight and surprise and make the listening experience all the more pleasurable for it. If you're a fan of a particular label such as 4AD, or XL for instance, because you can generally rely on the quality and composition of their output then Dance To The Radio fulfil a similar remit, very well, to a differing audience. You may also be interested to know it's only £4 in the labels Summer Sale! Go enjoy, if that's your bag.