Red Deer Club is seven years old and what a glorious dog year it has been. Born from the back street gigs and shying talents of Manchester’s alt-folk, new folk, whatever folk scene, the label has developed into the very best of cottage industries, pushing out the occasional artist album or compilation to capture the hearts and minds of anyone who comes across the belting little fawn. The label is the work of the excellent Duncan Sime, a man with an eclectic and absolutely top drawer taste in music.
It is that kaleidoscopic approach to bringing enjoyment to his own ears that has given him the musical wherewithal to piece together so much loveliness for those who’ve followed his label. Volume Five of his label’s always beautiful compilations is every bit as good as its predecessors. Weaving together the best of his home city’s talent with finery from further afield, it is a superb mix of genres and genius.
Indeed, such is the quality of the offerings that have been pieced together to celebrate Red Deer’s seventh birthday that is difficult to pick a favourite from the 13 tracks on offer. Do you go for the shore-lapping, ship-boarding opening of The Matinee Orchestra’s Slow Boats (For Monica) or Sophie Sveinsson’s aching, amazing and soul-bearing Foot Steps? Is it Championlover’s mildly manic and marvellous marching Ellen Degenerate or Art of the Memory Palace’s thrilling summer kiss Sun Blinded Capsule Memory Haze that tops the pile?
Truth is, only a couple of offerings fall slightly short of top marks. Oddly, one is the seemingly splendid team-up of melodic maestro Magic Arm and toe-tapper extraordinaire Jonnie Common, as the latter’s remix of the former’s Put Your Collar Up doesn’t quite nail the repetitive wonderment it was aiming for.
There is always one disappointing moment at a party though and, as ever, it’s best to move swiftly on the more pleasurable moments and back to the choice of the leader of the pack, so to speak. If a best present has to be chosen, then sneaking ever so slightly ahead of the rest is Rivers, Kankouran’s collaboration with Evelyn Burke. Channelling the might of Arcade Fire, it is urgent and unctuous and a song that begs for a second play as soon as the first rattles to a close.
A similar feeling lies over the whole compilation – conceived for Red Deer Club’s anniversary, it is an excellent, elegant and exuberant present and deserves a hearty cheers to the birthday boy.
You can listen to Red Deer Club Vol.5 on Soundcloud HERE!