Catskills 1st XI: It’s A Celebration Bitches

It’s a celebration bitches! Brighton-based record label, Catskills, have turned 11 years old. In this day and age, for a label to last more than a year or two is an achievement, but these cats clearly have the skills to pay the bills and are celebrating with a double CD compilation to knock your socks off. It’s out now, so snap it up quick sharp from your local musical haunt, or grab it right away straight from the Catskills eShop.

Catskills was formed in 1997 as an outlet for underground music between artists from both Brighton and London. From straight up dancefloor fillers to head-nodding killers, the Catskills dudes and their solid roster have been delighting eardrums for a deceptively long time now.

Over the years the width and breadth of their pool of talent has increasingly grown to encompass artists from all corners of the UK and then further beyond. You may be surprised at just how many tracks you recognise on this compilation, partly due to the level of material that has been used in advertising – from Levis Twisted Jeans, iTunes / iPod, Lee Jeans, Ray-Ban and Hyundai, as well as being featured in TV shows and films such as The Sopranos, Private Practice, One Tree Hill, Holes, The Girl Next Door, Rat Race, The Real Sex In The City, Fifth Gear and many more. There are also newer tracks on the compilation that feature mainly existing Catskills artists covering recordings by other Catskills artists. With 29 tracks over 2 CDs, it’s a solid listen indeed.

Tracklisting:

CD 1:
01. Black Grass – Hold Fire
02. Pepe Deluxe – Lying Peacefully (Kidda Mix)
03. Hardkandy – Going Home
04. Bushy – Mysterious / Beautiful
05. Aldo Vanucci – I Am A King
06. Nylon Rhythm Machine – Sawdust
07. Zero Theory – Side By Side
08. The Ripps – Off License
09. Nylon Rhythm Machine – Only Robots Have Digital Brains (Bushy Remix)
10. Hardkandy – The Good With The Bad
11. Pepe Deluxe – Pussy Cat Rock (Live Session)
12. Husky Rescue vs Pepe Deluxe – Jeans Off

CD2:
01. Sonorous Star – Indian Motorcycles
02. The Mexican – Spunky Love Fun
03. Bushy & Professor – Drop
04. Pepe Deluxe – Before You Leave
05. Capsule – Le Salon
06. Pepe Deluxe – Salami Fever
07. Feature Cast – Channel Hopping
08. Black Grass – Nice Up
09. Aldo Vanucci – When I See You Smile
10. Husky Rescue – New Light Of Tomorrow
11. Kidda – Hey Y’All
12. Husky Rescue – Summertime Cowboy
13. Hardkandy – Advice (ft. Terry Callier)
14. Black Grass – Oh Jah
15. The Ripps – Holiday
16. Husky Rescue – Nightless Night
17. Pepe Deluxe – Mischief Of Cloud Six

The compilation kicks off with Hold Fire, taken from Black Grass‘ latest album Three – which I reviewed earlier this year. A wicked nu-funk style track with signature hip-hop beats and tones. There’s literally too much material here to give an indpeth take on each track, but rest assured that within the confines of this fine 2hour 20minutes body of work, you’re treated to delights from top artists such as the aforementioned Black Grass, Hardkandy, Pepe Deluxe and Husky Rescue. The latter two groups, hailing from Finland, both provide their own distinct variants of genre blending goodness.

Pepe Deluxe gave us what I hailed as the album of 2007 with their release Spare Time Machine. This compilation contains two tracks from that LP, as well as other brilliant older works too. Their ability to weave between progressive rock sounds and electronic samples, with killer beats, is astounding. Whichever way Pepe Deluxe approach their work it is with blinding technique, so on point and tight it hurts. Their more recent work has taken them on a raw experimental prog journey, whilst older sounds were electronic affairs paired with mean basslines and kicking beats.

mp3: Pepe Deluxe – Lying Peacefully (Kidda Mix)

Husky Rescue are a 5-piece band omitting a mixture of cinematic folk – sometimes downtempo, but often uptempo. Their music is about atmospherics and energy. It’s the sort of band-music that fans of downtempo electronica would aspire to listen to. As vague as that sounds, Husky Rescue do genuinely provide a beautiful chamber of sounds that seemingly cross genres in their appeal. Ultimately organic, yet presented in a hauntingly contemporary fashion, if any band is gonna grab a curious ear or two… it’s this one.

An embarrassment of riches, 1st XI also contains downtempo gems from the likes of Hardkandy, Bushy, Aldo Vanucci, Nylon Rhythm Machine, Sonorous Star and Kidda. Whilst Zero Theory, The Mexican and Feature Cast hit it hard with some fierce beats. But it’s the high octane band The Ripps that give us a modern ska’esque rock extravaganza. Maybe not to everybody’s taste, however there’s no denying how infectious their tracks can be – a welcome change in pace either way.

Unbelievable to think that Catskills have been going so long, but they have, and 1st XI is a stark reminder of the consistently high quality output they have provided us with over the past 11 years. Alas, with such a fine array of artists on their roster, releasing rich and diverse music, is it really any wonder? 29 glorious tracks on offer here, not sure how anyone could even consider not indulging in this little beauty. Here’s to the next 11 years – nice work guys!

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