Bends For 166 Miles

... honest-to-goodness virtuosity...

The car-sick 166 miles in question is the distance by van from Manchester to Dublin, where Manchester's Twisted Nerve label (props: Badly Drawn Boy and Andy Votel) decided to play their first out-of-town knees-up last April. Not uptight London. Not rucksack central, Glasgow.

This seven-track compilation is the Ireland-only release that marks that journey. With three new tracks and a clutch of previously released vinyl gems, it repeats the sleight-of-hand worked by collections like 'Music For Modern Motorcycles' - namely, creating a mellow, unified vibe while demonstrating the skills of the Nerve posse.

Wunderkind Badly Drawn Boy is here, of course. But the summer-afternoon-with-fishing-rod-core of his 'Jewel Thief' is up against the quite staggering loveliness of Dakota Oak's 'I * Buses And Girls' and Alfie's innocent, cello-hewn 'James Dream'. Dakota Oak's live band incarnation, DOT, make their remarkable debut with 'Feet On The Moniters', while Sirconical's shuddering electronic 'Cottonopolis' wipes the floor with most experimental techno. The only sour note is Mum & Dad's 'Monster Truk', whose ironic trash aesthetic rings false amid all this honest-to-goodness virtuosity.
8 / 10

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