Various Lights On A Darkening Shore

Sarah Records never really stood a chance. After the initial sparkling reviews, it became fashionable to dismiss every release as simply being "just another Sarah record" instead of embracing them for the things of beauty that some at least were. Still, it is now getting the accolades it deserved after the fact, partly because they quit while they were ahead, while Matt Haynes started a new label, Shinkansen Recordings. Lights On A Darkening Shore is the label's first compilation, it features several songs that have since been deleted and are unavailable. Especially for such splendid music. The "stars" of Shinkansen are the Trembling Blue Stars, who have recently had their latest album released in North America by Sub Pop - their four tracks are from earlier singles and albums and are just as good as their newer stuff. Some of the bands are hangers on from the Sarah days such as Blueboy (who sadly no longer exist) and Harvey Williams (who was previously known as Another Sunny Day, and was a member of the Field Mice). Not surprisingly, their contributions are not huge departures from anything they've done in the past, but that's fine. The new bands are the biggest revelation, particularly Monograph, who sound like Guided By Voices without the rock sensibilities. Cody, on the other hand, are all swirling synthesiser noise and atmosphere while Tompot Blenny are the only band that I could dismiss as being a Sarah reject (in an affectionate kind of way). This is a nice little compilation that works well as both an introduction to the label or as a reminder to those already familiar. You should start listening before people start saying that everything they release sounds just like another Shinkansen band. (Shinkansen)