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Album review: V/A ‘Craufurd Arms MMXX: Volume 1’

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Craufurd Arms -MMXX Vol 1 (1)

Various Artists
Craufurd Arms – MMXX: Volume 1

[self-released]

Undoubtedly one of the regions best small venues The Craufurd Arms, like all its contemporaries, has been hit hard by the Covid pandemic. Never ones to go down without a fight, they hit on the brilliant idea of a series of compilation CD’s to support themselves and the local music scene. Imaginatively titled Craufurd Arms – MMXX: Volume 1 it contains 16 tracks of the best new music, and it’s certain to whet your appetite for some ear splitting live music in a beer sodden venue.

Attracting some of big live names to Milton Keynes, The Craufurd Arms [rather laudably] always gives support slots to the best local talent, and they’re presented here in a prize assortment of rock candy. Cusp kick things off in the best possible style; their sound swirls upwards like tendrils of smoke from a cigarette. With beats that’ll have all but the tone deaf and infirm grooving, Phantom Isle mix the modern and antiquated on the sublime earworm ‘Whip’. JJ Moon gets all groovy and soaks their original ‘Dazed’ in plenty of reverb. Seemingly weaned on a diet of amphetamine The Comms drill a hole to the centre of your cranium with ‘Pulled Apart’, which shows why they’re the most exciting band to burst out of Shoetown for some time.

I’ve always felt our corner of the Midlands, tucked away, is criminally overlooked. And that’s a shame, because on the strength of this compilation it’s got some serious talent. Naked Next Door sound like future Reading headliners with the terminally cool ‘Trying To Get Through’. Another band knocking on the door of stardom are Sarpa Sarpa, with their typically effervescent ‘Paralysed’. In between we’re treated to Weird Milk and the wonderfully echoey ‘You’, Low Girl with ‘ICU’ and the perpetual sunshine of So So Sun’s ‘Paradise’.

If you’re missing that feeling of the bass guitar rattling your ribcage at a gig then Harvey Dormer will sate your appetite somewhat with the Geezer Butler-esque ‘Spiders’. Guaranteed to brighten the darkest winter evenings The Mezz deliver a sun kissed, pop nugget in the shape of ‘California’. Things get decidedly heavy with Torus and ‘Make You Mine’ while Tragic bring this comp to a discordant (but rather nice) conclusion with ‘Walking’.

If you’re reading New Boots then you’ve probably spent an enjoyable evening or two at the Craufurd Arms. Now’s the time to return the love and pick up a copy of MMXX: Volume 1.

Peter Dennis

‘Craufurd Arms – MMXX: Volume 1’ is available now via Bandcamp and CD.

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