Negative Hope Records – Sampler Vol. 2 | Album Review

negative hope records

Sampler Vol. 2 is out now on Negative Hope Records.

This, the second sampler from Glasgow’s Negative Hope Records walks elegantly along the fine line between consistency and variety, bringing together and compiling works from a wide array of artists to produce a body of work that holds its weight better than many such releases. It sounds as though the featured artists came together to work on it like in some sort of charity case. That being said, there is enough to wet whistles across a broad spectrum of tastes, showcasing works from within a number of distinct but related genres.

Many of the artists featured on this release can also be found on the first sampler – which also succeeded in being an exciting and moreish record. Listening to both compilations, one can note a comfortable progression for many of the returning artists, as though they have found a more specific place to mark their territory. This is not to say that the songs on the first sampler were lacking, far from it, only that on this – the second sampler – there is more of a sense of certainty and maturity.

Alongside the freshly polished repeat offenders are the labels equally exciting new acquisitions. Each artist’s offering has a distinct quality and individuality, but also seems to contribute towards an overarching theme. Taken together, one gets the sense that Negative Hope Records has an eye on something in the distance, averaging across a range of sounds to draw a tantalising mean out of a number of genres. A quality emerges out of this record that seems to show an interesting roadmap away from well-worn pigeon-holes whilst retaining the appeal of each individual genre and without shaving off any necessary edges.

Of course, no mixtape is perfect, and there is perhaps a sore thumb poking out in one or two places. This is less to do with the quality of each individual track and more to do with the consistency of the recordings and the variety between tracks. As discussed, there is a wide range on offer here – and it is likely that most guitar-music oriented sensibilities will be catered for at one point or another – so it may not be too scathing a comment to say that not every song on the record made it onto my “Best Songs Evar” playlist (although some of them do!). That being said, things flow very well between songs and it is clear that the arrangement has been well thought through. This feels like a record, not just a compilation. The quality of the release is greater than the sum of the ten songs it features.

This is the second compilation from this young, small record label, and so – if this and its predecessor are anything to go by – there is a lot more to be expected. The fact that it is not perfect only lends to its charm – who wants their rock music to sound perfect? This record feels like a much-needed step forwards in Scotland’s contemporary independent music scene – if such a thing can be said to exist – marking a transition out of its gangly adolescence and towards some semblance of maturity.

Ten songs is not an unreasonable number of tracks for such a compilation, but in this case it is not enough – I wanted more, and so I suppose the sampler has fulfilled its function. Needless to say, I will be keeping an eye on releases from this label. I feel suitably teased and very much excited. If you listen to one record today it should be this one, it is varied, impressive, interesting and well made. It has made my feet very itchy to bounce around a dark, sticky basement and then not hear anything properly for a couple of days.

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