The Distractions - ‘Wise’ from ‘The End Of The Pier’ (Occultation)
Factory Star - ‘Olympian’ from ‘New Sacral’ (Occultation)
The June Brides- ‘A January Moon’ from ‘Between The Moon And The Clouds’ 7” (Occultation / Slumberland)
If you were to make a list of contemporary record labels that have consistently delivered remarkable quality over the past few years you would be hard pushed to find anyone more worthy of the top slot than Occultation. Their commitment to Wild Swans alone would ensure their place in any right minded heart, but in 2012 they released a trio of discs that demanded attention.
Firstly, former Factory Funsters The Distractions returned with their second album after more than a quarter of a century and it was worth its wait in gold. ‘The End of The Pier’ was filled with suitably rounded and reflective middle-aged melancholia mixed with sharply observed and deftly coloured stabs of passion. Guitarist Steve Perrin laced razor blades through daisy chains whilst Mike Finney cemented his position as a Reggie King for our generation. A bittersweet soul sensation.
Martin Bramah’s latest set meanwhile resonated with the spirit and sound of the best of his earlier Blue Orchids offering ‘The Greatest Hit’. ‘New Sacral’ offered six sharply refined, avuncular and angular ripostes to the modern world. A glowering triumph of burbling, magical-realist urban psychedelia.
And what of The June Brides? Phil Wilson and his band of merry pranksters proved they still have the moves to charm a weary soul. There is surely an argument to be made that says The June Brides are the sound of a modern English Country music - by turns brittle, gritty and full of comforting warmth. A national treasure and no mistake.