I’m not going to try to front: Before listening to “One Inch Badge Presents Sea Monsters 2 – The Best of Brighton”, I was completely unaware that the Brighton music scene was even a thing. Sure, I’ve heard artists that have come out of Brighton, like Fatboy Slim, British Sea Power, and The Pipettes, but I’m from the US, so “they’re from the UK” is about as precise as my musical map-plotting got. However, the Brighton scene is totally a thing, and as this compilation proves, it’s definitely one that deserves its own page in my atlas of rock n’ roll.
“Sea Monsters 2” is definitely kind of a mixed bag, seamlessly meandering across genres. I was surprised to find the varying degrees of Prog Rock brought by Restlessist and The Physics House Band along-side Munich, which sounds like “The Holy Bible”-era Manic Street Preachers. Hell, I was surprised anyone even sounds like 90s Street Preachers. In the States, that kind of Brit Pop was something that happened suddenly, then stopped just as suddenly. But I digress.
The mood of this collection swings back and forth as well. Robert Stillman is kind of a whimsical, mostly-one-man jazz band, but Black Black Hills are reminiscent of a menacing Nick Cave. DA-10’s “Respirator” is an electronic meditation on the act of, well, respiration, while Sea Bastard’s “Taedium” is a fifteen-minute doom metal suicide note.
The most surprising thing (besides my own woeful lack of knowledge about Brighton) is that these disparate bands mesh together as well as they do. The transition between, say, Squadron Leaders’ sexy surf-rock “Brothel Creepers” and Sons of Noel and Adrian’s lush, folky “Rise,” isn’t jarring at all. Though “Sea Monsters 2” isn’t an album in the traditional sense, it’s 23 tracks, taken as a whole, that paint a vivid portrait of the ever-growing Brighton scene.
So, my take away from “Sea Monsters 2”: A lot of great bands are coming out one English town that I never rated as an epicenter of a creative explosion. Well, that, and that I need to buy a better atlas.