Under the Bridge

Various Artists


A veritable Where Are They now for the Sarah Records generation, Under the Bridge features new music from the likes of Boyracer, Amelia Fletcher and Blueboy's Paul Stewart

First things first, Under The Bridge is not an indie-pop tribute to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Rather, the press release claims, “an essential album for all fans of Sarah Records”. And it’s not wrong. Collected here are fourteen acts associated with the classic Bristol label, either under the same names or in other incarnations. Most importantly, in keeping with the spirit of Sarah and the fact that these musicians are still active today, all the material contained within is new, and very good. The bands are in fine form, building on their former forms. What more could a fan ask for?

The comp kicks off with The Luxembourg Signal’s (ex-Aberdeen) lovely ‘Travel Through Midnight’ evoking, as its title implies, romantic lights intermittently illuminating the horizon in the midst of a long-distance twilight journey. Even As We Speak’s ‘Begins Goodbye’ is as catchy and energetic as their 1993 ‘Getting Faster’, one of many career highlights. The Secret Shine and Boyracer contributions are also up there with the best of their recorded output. ‘Lost In The Middle’ is gorgeous dream pop while the latter’s ‘Larkin’ is a great mid-tempo punky rumination on the poet, freedom, judgement, and hope, all in two minutes and nine seconds.

Possibly the best song on Under The Bridge comes from those responsible for putting the compilation together, Rob Pursey and Amelia Fletcher, who started Skep Wax Records in 2021. In their capacity as The Catenary Wires, they offer more than a hint of their former Heavenly with ‘Wall Of Sound’’s great melody and summery feel. Also from the ashes of Heavenly, Peter Momtchiloff’s Tufthunter, with Jessica Griffin on vocals, indulges the pair’s love of French pop (as sometimes heard in their work as Would-Be-Goods). Conjuring up small town rainy daydreams, The Wake’s closing ‘Stockport’ provides a charming glimpse onto where this sort of music was appreciated in the first place.

Of the modern manifestations, Useless Users (ex-Secret Shine and Action Painting!)’s ‘Wish You Well’ is reminiscent of Pulp’s Fire Records years in both chord choice and vocal delivery. Jetstream Pony, another Aberdeen offshoot, have a nice little pop gem in ‘Strood McD F.C.’. And Sepiasound’s ‘Arcadian’, the only instrumental on the record, should be instantly recognizable to any Blueboy fan as being the work of Paul Stewart.

Skep Wax are intent on carrying on a tradition while not resting on that legacy’s laurels. In line with the Sarah love of landmarks, Under The Bridge’s sixteen page colour booklet includes photos of such titular structures relevant to each act’s whereabouts accompanying their credits and contact info. The Skep Wax site also hosts short interviews with each band. With the Sarah catalogue having stopped at its 100th release twenty-seven years ago now, Under The Bridge offers a pleasing coda that will hopefully continue to reverberate.

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