Various Artists

Atlantic Flowers

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Conceived as a co-release between three labels in countries all bordering on said ocean -- Clairecords in the U.S., Midsummer Madness in Brazil, and Alison in Germany -- Atlantic Flowers functions as a nice joint compilation of the trio's various bands. The general focus of all three is on explorations in post-punk/goth/shoegaze/indie pop in any number of combinations, though generally speaking with a calm, understated air. Certainly exceptions exist, though, such as Aerial Love Feed doing a pretty good late-'80s Jesus & Mary Chain imitation on "Rockethouse" (though with much different vocals, to be sure). Some tracks are exclusive for the compilation, while others come from recent releases or even from a couple of years back, but given the introductory goal of the collection in general, such an approach isn't surprising. Clairecords is represented by some familiar favorites in the neo-shoegaze scene like Isobella, Monster Movie, and Con Dolore, while new signings Pia Fraus and Malory also stand out, the latter, an Alison co-signing, beginning the album with a remix of the majestic "Lake of Doubts," with some midsong guitar soloing to die for in terms of sheer bliss-out. Alison's other acts make for a worldwide overview, with low-key Mexican teenagers Ambiente, Peruvian gazers Resplandor, and, from the farthest distance away, Gentlyfall, quite possibly the only band of its kind out in Perth, Australia. Midsummer Madness' representatives often reflect their own Brazilian backgrounds as much as inspirations overseas -- Cassino's "Na Pista" is a wonderfully queasy neo-psych number with more than a little Tropicalia in it, for instance. But the combinations they can come up with are often quite beautiful -- the acoustic guitar and gentle singing on the Gilbertos' "Na Casa Do Orestes" is backed by a slowed-down snippet of the opening rhythms of Joy Division's "She's Lost Control."

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