other reviews

gig review in The Guardian, 13 Sep 2000

and the gig preview in Time Out:

Netbeat webzine reviews Comes With A Smile magazine

"Its glossy cover and handsomely designed sepia pages might suggest otherwise, but Comes With A Smile is a fanzine in the truest sense of the term. CWAS is a labour of love, the baby of one Matt Dornan and his unquenchable desire to salute and spread the word about the music closest to his heart, invariably stuff either marginalised or ignored completely by mainstream media.

The recently published issue number five comes with the strongest inducement yet to join the CWAS glee club: "All The While...", a value-for-money 16-track CD featuring exclusive tracks from a stellar line-up of questing souls, united by a singularity of spirit and the fact that CWAS reckons they're great. With a bias to the more maverick corners of Americana, the stand-out names include Calexico, Mazarin, The Handsome Family, Lisa Germano, Vic Chesnutt, Cat Power, Lambchop and Lullaby For The Working Class, plus contributions from Superstar, Witness and the glorious, soon-to-be legendary Arco.

The magazine boasts interviews with some of the featured CD artists, plus the likes of Piano Magic, Joe Pernice and Giant Sand, as well as a reviews section. Comes With A Smile has no written manifesto, nor does it need one: the passion within its pages and in the music speaks for itself." (Keith Cameron)

Ptolemaic Terrascope fanzine - Mar 00

Mojo November 1999 - Terrastock III live review

"(other awards go to....) arco, for a gem of a set: delicate, acoustic, moving. (Joe Cushley)"

NME 11 September 1999 - Head In The Clouds review

"Charmingly rustic collection of eccentric oddities. Intermittently lo of fi, consistently high of quality. Necessary or evil? Packed with frayed fragments of pop, the likes of which you simply won't be able to find anywhere else; precious, pretentious or just plain bizarre, it's all here. Izumi Misawa's sprawling "Meet Me At The Brilliant Eclipse" is a standout, as are appearances by arco, White Hotel and The Autumn Leaves. Plenty of diamonds among this debris. (8)" (Stevie Chick)

Time Out magazine (28/7/99)- Music Preview section
I dream of indie - Dreamy Records' unlikely mogul.

Tracy Lee Jackson, record mogul (who heads up a team of, well, one, actually) at Dreamy Records, arrives for a chat bearing a box of Lindt chocolate bears. Surely I can't accept them, this is clearly a bribe! 'Oh no,' she shrugs in a reassuring Californian drawl, 'this is a present. I always give people presents when I meet them. I gave Sebadoh all these funny little things -I don't know if they knew what to make of them.' This is a woman who put on a special live night for her label at the Notting Hill Arts Club recently, for which the ticket included live music and French maids serving chocolate-filled baguettes and hot chocolate drinks. 'Chocolate and red wine, they're my two favourite things,' she says, as if this explains the company philosophy. Hurrah.

Swedish pop band The Cardigans may have hijacked a perfectly good item of indie clothing and turned it into a synonym for Garbage-style, MTV rock, but the spirit of indie can't be quelled so easily. No! Tracy Lee Jackson is living proof that you don't need a distribution deal with an international corporation to get the records you love out to the good listening public... even if it does mean selling your car to pay for an EP.

Dreamy Records is two EPs, one album and one compilation old. Jackson, who had worked at independent record companies Ryko and Blue Rose, started it as a means of getting records out without the lengthy process of waiting for approval, development meetings etc; if a song sounded great, why couldn't it go straight on record? The band who first roused her to action were Arco. Their demo was one of the many Jackson had snaffled from the endless dunes of tapes sent in to record company offices every week. They sounded good (ambient indie pop, ifyou will) and the address on the tape was only a couple of roads away from her in Ealing, so she invited them out for a drink and a chat. It might not seem quite as high-powered as flying your client to Paris for lunch and a spot of schmoozing, but it was enough encouragement for Arco, one songwriter called Chris Healey, to lure his brother and a friend into getting a gigging band together.

Their first EP, 'Longsighted', which came out last autumn, was the first product of Tracy's labour of love. She decided to call the label Dreamy after a conversation with a friend who worked at Creation Records. She was trying to describe what the music would probably sound like, and when her list of adjectives got to 'dreamy', she stopped.

The recently released compilation, 'Head In the Clouds', is basically Jackson's dream come true: 20 tracks from her favourite bands and artists, many of which she picked up on from the same pile of demos. Izumi Misawa works and lives in Japan and coos sweetly over music that can only be described as a probable soundtrack to a 1930s cartoon interpretation of the inside of Tom Waits' head that breaks into classical string flurries from nowhere. Kirk Lake and The Autumn Leaves are artists Tracy was just a fan of and who kindly agreed to contribute to this scrapbook of hers, as was songwriter Chris Starling, who is just beginning to come out of performance hibernation. Then there's Santa Sprees, whose 'Wish I'd Been An Extra In "Dawn Of The Dead"' isas rowdy, silly and downright cool as itsounds. 'Oh, they're teaching in Japan now,' Jackson tells me. And that's just it, some of these acts are stars in the ascendant, others are just people who made a good sound and were happy to have it committed to record for posterity. Indeed, when you meet the chairwoman of the board at Dreamy Records (you can't miss her, she's at every gig in town), there's a visible joy in the knowledge that someone, somewhere is writing a great song at that very moment.Not all the bands on the collection are 'signed' to Dreamy, but many of them are playing this year's Terrastock festival. Terrastock's two previous indie binges have been in America, but Tracy has persuaded the organisers to bring this celebration of all things alternative to London's ULU for August 27 to 29. She has no financial interest in it; it's enough for her that this legendary event is coming to her adopted hometown. When it comes to evangelism, Tracy Lee Jackson is the Billy Graham of Alternative.

Laura Lee Davies

For more info contact www.terrascope.org).

Q magazine - Head In The Clouds review (Sept 99)

"A 20-track sampler of the tiny British singles label, aimed at attracting finance to make albums. From the deliciously outre pop of arco (20,000 ft) to Farina's sublimely melancholic lament to former glories (Twilight Of The Empire), this is almost universally great stuff.Other highlights include Izumi Misawa's kitsch keyboard-fest Meet Me At The Brilliant Eclipse and Jaques featuring Kirk Lake's whimsical You Don't Get It Now But You Will. Someone give Dreamy money now, please. ****" (David Sheppard)

Melody Maker "Tips For '99" - arco (Jan 9th)

"Hiding out in Ealing with his angel voice and aching heart, arco's chris healey reckoned he'd never play live, or release anything longer than last year's two EP's, "longsighted" and "ending up". Fortunately, lovers of Low / Red House Painters-style melancholy pleaded otherwise, and 1999 promises more (very quiet) gigs. And maybe even a whole album's worth of sad, sweet, slo-fi stuff." (Jennifer Nine)