Album of the Day: Various Artists, “Radiating Light: Orchid Tapes & Friends”

It’s alarming to note the number of rock genres that have roots in a specific compilation album. The 1960’s folk revival sprang to life as a result of Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music; punk rock got a jump start by Lenny Kaye and Jac Holzman’s Nuggets; indie pop became a new shorthand after the release of the NME’s C86.

Following in this legacy is Orchid Tapes co-founder Warren Hildebrand, who has been championing bedroom pop artists through his New York-based label since 2010. Radiating Light is Orchid Tapes’ second compilation—it gets its name from a lyric from Yohuna’s “Badges,” which was featured on the first comp. Each of its 13 songs is composed by a different artist, but each one also hews close to the label’s defined aesthetic: electronic-leaning, lo-fi pop.

But despite this general overlap, there’s a clear split between the glitchy, experimental electronica of Katie Dey, Ricky Eat Acid, the aqueous synth ballads proffered by Hildebrand’s Foxes in Fiction and the more straightforward pop of R.L. Kelly, Infinity Crush, and Owen Pallett.

The one constant is a general propensity for introspective, backward-looking lyrics. The album’s three standouts—Soccer Mommy’s “Memories,” R.L. Kelly’s “Mad,” and Yohuna’s “Geese Outside”—form a constellation of isolation; “Mad” ends with R.L. Kelly singing, “I can’t remember the person I used to be,” atop a solo guitar while “Geese Outside” begins with Yohuna singing, “I don’t remember a time / when I was happy, gracious, or kind.” The songs on Radiating Light not only define bedroom pop, but provide a compact introduction for future listeners.

Alex Wexelman

One Comment

  1. Elisabeth R Meese
    Posted August 17, 2016 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    nice! Will listen 😊

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