Lolipop Records // Digital Compilation
Recommended Track: Adult Books – Bedsit Infamies
Lolipop Records is the project of Wyatt Blair, best known around these parts as the man behind Mr. Elevator and the Brain Hotel, solo artist, and drummer-in-a-pinch for any number of local bands. Lolipop has put out this compilation of various artists on their fledgling label in order to support the creation of a record store/recording studio, and I’m pleased to report that it’s worth every penny of the $12 asking price. Call it a sort of quasi-Nuggets for the California pop set, loaded with enough sheer talent and DIY chutzpah to bring a smile to the face of even the crustiest old school anorak kid.
Unlike many compilations, the Lolipop comp never comes across as unfocused despite the diversity of the artists contained therein. To the contrary: it’s amazing how well the whole thing flows despite the fact that here’s Froth rocking the late 80s art pop vibe followed up by Lonesome Harmonic doing their best Syd Barrett impression, followed by cuddle punks Sweet Valley Slumber Party raising the ghost of Talulah Gosh, etc. Basically, This Is Pop in Southern California circa 2012, wherein 40 years of popular music coalesce in the brains of kids who’ve been plugged into the Internet since birth and teethed on their parents’ new wave records before discovering that the early 90s were a thing thanks to file-sharing. And, surprise, it’s almost entirely gold.
Perhaps the best thing about Lolipop’s compilation is that, while there’s something for every taste–ranging from power pop (Adult Books) to twee pop (Sweet Valley Slumber Party, Lazee Lavenders) to psychedelic rock (Blackfeet Braves, Cab 20, Drinking Flowers) to shoegaze (Froth, Aftergloam) to straight up rock and roll riffage (Corners, Cigarette Bums)–there’s a consistent thread running throughout tying up the whole package like a beautiful birthday present. It’s all in those nonstop hooks, youthful enthusiasm, and crystal-clear live production. (With the exception of Wildflower’s super-duper lo-fi girl-boy acoustic pop, which sounds like it was recorded in my living room–what happened there, dudes?)
That said, Lolipop is smart enough to front load their compilation with the best tracks, starting with a grungey garage tune from interesting trio Your Ugly Sister. The woozy riff from “Slaves” would still be ringing in my ears except then Adult Book’s “Bedsit Infamies” — the best track here, bar none—blazed out of nowhere and set my head spinning (it’s still spinning.) This unabashedly hooky power pop track is exactly the kind of song that makes you pull over your car, lane discipline be damned, and start scrolling through your iPod, only one question on your mind: “Who is THAT?”
Things get less interesting around the time Wildflower’s lo-fi “Don’t Look Down” comes on, its raw production thrown into stark relief by the clarity of the surrounding tracks, yet you’ll be rewarded if you persevere through to the soft psych of Cab 20 and Craters. Really, the only song that could be lost without issue is from The Aquadolls, who knocked this listener out of her pop reverie with the nauseatingly saccharine “Sha La La”, which plays like diet Summer Twins. Okay, final track “Understand”, Wyatt Blair’s very own Jesus and Mary Chain rip-off, isn’t his best work (neither is Mr. Elevator and the Brain Hotels’s “Grape Jelly (Jam)”, acting as filler somewhere around the middle), but I can’t hate on him for ending this compilation with his own song. He’s certainly earned the privilege. Altogether, this is one of the most adorable comps I’ve heard from an L.A. label, and a cool calling card for Lolipop Records. Even a cursory listen should make you wanna dig deeper into the Lolipop catalogue, and that’s its greatest achievement.