Various Artists

Little Darla Has a Treat for You, Vol. 20: Summer 2003

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The 20th volume of the Little Darla series shows the San Francisco-based Darla label as vital and varied as ever. The disc collects tracks both released on Darla proper and some released by Darla-distributed labels like Attack 9, Bubblecore, Fuzzybox, and LTM. The bonuses are the exclusive tracks that are a treasured part of the series. Here the exclusives come from Sweet Trip, whose "Deep (No. 2)" is a melodic collision between acoustic indie pop and electronics that ends up being the best song the group has ever done, the California Oranges, whose sweet "The Weather" will send you on a time trip back to the heyday of the Blake Babies, the Real Tuesday Weld, clocking in with a lounge-y alternative version of the band's "One More Chance," a Graham Massey remix of Crispy Ambulance's "Step Up," and most amazingly, a new track by the Wake. The LTM reissues of the Wake's Factory albums were highlights of 2002, and apparently the bandmembers were so chuffed by the positive reaction that they headed back into the studio to record an album for Darla. A demo of Town of 85 Lights is included here. A peppy track built around revolving samples and Caesar's dour vocals, it certainly bodes well for their full-length. The remainder of the collection is made up of previously released tracks, and includes highlights like the hushed electronica of Freescha, the country psychedelia of Lowlights, the lush "Saratoga" from Darla's reissue of Ultramarine's seminal Every Man and Woman Is a Star album, the aching slowcore of Pale Horse and Rider, the welcome return of the lost shoegazers the Swirlies, and the frosty electro-folk of Women & Children. The only real duds are the studied and overlong "Drunk and Lighting Fires" by Maquiladora and the generic strum and drone of Saloon. For the most part, this collection is indeed a treat for indie lovers everywhere. Thanks, Little Darla!

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