Various Artists

Invisible Shield

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Invisible Shield features material taken from recent releases, except for a live recording by the Microphones ("Get the Hell Out of the Way of the Volcano"). There is a wide range of sounds presented but they are unified by a strong independent aesthetic and by the guiding hand of Calvin Johnson. The deep-voiced one appears three times on the compilation, with his dub-soul dance band Dub Narcotic Sound System, with Beat Happening (the band that made him a household name and whose beautiful "Angel Gone" is taken from a 2000 single), and under his own name in full-on singer/songwriter mode. The highlights of the disc range from the warped singer/songwriter lo-fi acrobatics of Little Wings to the lush indie electronica of [[[[VVRSSNN]]]] to the post-rock shoegaze sounds of Landing, the drifting space rock of Yume Bitsu, and the old-school indie rock of Wolf Colonel. A few of the bands are not quite up to par: C.O.C.O.'s no wave funk is pretty uninteresting, the Blow's brand of noisy electronic punk is cold and nasty, and Dennis Driscoll falls just on the wrong side of boring. Invisible Shield shows that, apart from a couple of bands like Beat Happening (of course), All Girl Summer Fun Band, and Tender Trap (the latter two of which play engaging and thoroughly charming indie pop in its most pop guise), K is a label that is taking chances and won't be tied down to any one sound. Indie pop fans should rejoice that such a great label still exists and is as strong as ever.

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